It is fair to say that one of the sectors for which lock down has caused the most confusion, is the construction sector.
When lock down was announced six weeks ago, the government was slow to confirm whether or not it was safe for construction operations to continue on site. As a result, many contractors took decisions to close sites or dramatically scale down construction operations, in some cases without discussing with their clients first.
According to Build UK, 70% of its members' construction sites have now reopened and anecdotally, clients and contractors are telling us similar. But it feels as though this is only the start of the story for the construction industry.
Over the last few weeks, we have all adapted to the new normal and measures that seemed unthinkable two months ago (such as people being 2 metres apart at all times) are becoming second nature. As government advice is adapted and eventually relaxed, contractors who are on site already will need to keep adapting working practices whilst endeavouring to mitigate delays to completion of the works. For works which have not yet commenced, developers and their contractors will need to have open discussions about the possible effects of COVID-19 on project delivery and agree the contractual risk allocation in terms of possible delays and costs.
What lies ahead for the UK is inherently uncertain, but we do know that developers and contractors will be talking about COVID-19 and its effects for many months to come.
Major contractors are now working on nearly 70% of their sites as the return to work in construction continues.