It’s been interesting, over the past couple of months, to see how various sectors of the construction industry have responded to the Covid-19 lockdown. To begin with literally everything seemed to stop dead. But then it became clear that some sites hadn’t closed (putting some contractors and suppliers in a tricky position: expose your workforce to possible infection or pull off-site and risk legal action for breach of contract?)
And while some sectors – notably house-building – have scaled right back, commercial construction and building services, responding to the government’s call, suddenly sprang into action to build a series of temporary hospitals.
But the sector that, more than any other, has soldiered on through the lockdown and kept supply- chains ticking over is infrastructure – roads, rail and the utilities. Many of these projects are deemed ‘essential work’ and must keep going – in fact the government has even expedited a number of landmark schemes in a bid to drive economic recovery. First of all, Phase 1 of HS2 got the go-ahead in April; then transport secretary Grant Shapps started clearing a backlog of road construction jobs that have been waiting for the green light for months.
At the time of writing, the lockdown is gradually lifting and people are returning to work (all the while observing the new etiquette of social distancing, of course).Let us hope that by the time we publish again, in August, the months of lockdown will seem like the fading memory of a bad dream.