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  • Michael Laidlaw

Resuming Construction During the Pandemic

On April 29, 2020, six Bay Area counties (San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Contra Costa and Marin) and the Cities of Berkeley and San Francisco issued revised shelter-in-place orders that significantly eased restrictions related to construction activities, among others. The new orders became effective at 11:59 p.m. on May 3, 2020 and were renewed in mid-to-late May. The orders will continue to be in effect until they are extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended.

Notably, the new orders permit all construction to proceed as essential business, consistent with the March 19, 2020 Order of the State Public Health Officer (as amended), so long as it is in accordance with specified construction safety protocols.

The new orders include a safety protocol for small construction projects, which are defined as projects of 10 or fewer residential units or commercial projects with less than 20,000 square feet, and a separate protocol for large projects. These protocols are found in the newly revised orders at Appendix B-1 and B-2, respectively. While both sets of protocols mandate extensive social distancing, PPE, and other safety and sanitization requirements aimed at preventing workers and occupants from contracting and spreading COVID-19, the protocols for large projects are more restrictive in several respects. Among the most onerous requirements for small projects, is the requirement that a site-specific COVID-19 supervisor be designated to enforce the safety protocols and be present on the construction site at all times during construction activities. Taking this a step further, large projects are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Compliance Officer (SCO) as well as a Third-Party Jobsite Safety Accountability Supervisor (JSAS) assigned to the jobsite. Moreover, large projects require the development of a Site-Specific Health and Safety Plan to address COVID-19-related issues, which must be posted on-site at all entrances and exits and produced to County governmental authorities upon request.

As set forth in the newly revised orders, if the county/municipal orders conflict with any state public health order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the most restrictive provision controls. Accordingly, regardless of where a construction project is located, it is important to identify and assess all applicable federal, state, county and municipal orders that may exist at the time of construction. If you require assistance navigating these issues, Huguenin Kahn is here to help.

The renewed May 18-28, 2020 orders that are currently in effect can be found at the following links:

· Alameda County

· Contra Costa County

· Marin County

· San Francisco County and City

· San Mateo County

· Santa Clara County

· City of Berkeley

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