nyc construction

Cuomo Calls Off ‘Non-Essential’ Construction Statewide

Construction waste recycling worker Sean Ragiel takes a break in Times Square after working at a job site, March 24, 2020. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will freeze most construction statewide in response to the pandemic virus sweeping New York, after outcry from workers and word of COVID-19 cases on job sites around the city.

On Friday the governor will decree most residential and commercial building temporarily off limits, according to a spokesperson for Cuomo’s office. Infrastructure and transportation projects will be allowed to continue, as well as emergency repairs, hospital building and work on affordable housing.

Until now, construction work has been classified as essential, exempt from a state “pause” that ordered the shutdown of a wide swath of workplaces.

Cuomo’s shift followed a rush of protest from construction workers and their family members. Significant numbers had begun refusing to show up for work, sources said. Word traveled on Facebook among workers about positive cases on job sites and an electrician’s death.

Stephen Jozef, 57, who had been working on Google’s offices at 111 8th Ave., died from the coronavirus Monday, his daughter said. The electrician was last on the site on March 6, leaving because he grew ill.

The carpenters’ union local released a statement Thursday asking elected officials to limit jobs to “truly essential” construction. “Our members’ lives are at stake,” it said.

Cuomo’s move came as some construction sites around the city temporarily closed for cleaning after workers tested positive for COVID-19 — including prized Cuomo public works projects at Moynihan Station and LaGuardia Airport. Both projects will continue under the new guidance.

Some in the industry feared that their coworkers have not yet fully appreciated the threat of the virus as work was allowed to continue.

“They’re being led to believe it’s no big deal,” one steamfitter said. Continue reading

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Construction Continues as “Essential” Work Worrying Greenpoint Residents

Construction workers at 29 West St. this week

As construction sites continue to bustle with action along Greenpoint’s waterfront, the state recommends that everyone stay inside to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

All non-essential businesses have officially paused across New York so that everyone can socially distance while overly burdened hospitals treat the influx of infected patients.

Nail and hair salons, clothing and record stores, and many restaurants have closed, but residential and commercial construction work remains essential according to the list of essential businesses released last week by Governor Cuomo.

Local residents began writing to Greenpointers last week about their concerns of the large groups of construction workers congregating and performing tasks side-by-side at work sites in the neighborhood. Continue reading

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