'Non-essential' construction sites to close but exemptions including social housing projects near completion can continue

There are a number of exemptions to the order.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 6th 2021, 6:24 PM

CABINET HAS AGREED to shut all non-essential construction sites by 6pm this Friday, 8 January. 

While the move will see the vast majority of construction stop, there will be exemptions for several sites. 

The move means that the vast majority of the estimated 200,000 direct and indirect construction workers will not be at work from next week.

Construction work on health projects specific to the pandemic, designated social housing projects, emergency maintenance and education will be allowed to stay open. 

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said this evening that the social housing projects that will remain open are those “which are due for completion within a 6-8 week period”. 

“Cabinet also agreed that the construction and operation of water, wastewater and gas infrastructure and related services remain essential. The planning system will continue to operate subject to appropriate safety protocols and services operating online where feasible,” the ministed added. 

The projects listed that are exempt from the closures are: 

  • Essential health and related projects including those relevant to preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of Covid-19.
  • Social housing projects, including voids, designated as essential sites by Local Authorities based on set criteria
  • Housing adaptation grants 
  • Repair, maintenance and construction of critical transport and utility infrastructure.
  • Education facilities sites designated as essential by the Department of Education.
  • Supply and delivery of essential or emergency maintenance and repair services to businesses and places of residence (including electrical, gas, plumbing, glazing and roofing services) on an emergency call-out basis.
  • Certain large construction projects in the exporting/FDI sector based on set criteria.

Speaking after the shutdown was confirmed, O’Brien said it will “undoubtedly have an impact on our housing delivery targets for 2021″. 

“The government and my department will do whatever is necessary to make up as much ground as possible as restrictions ease and people get back to work. Ultimately, the health and safety of workers and wider society is the top priority,” he said. 


Earlier today, the head of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) insisted that essential projects will not be impacted by new Covid-19 restrictions.

Tom Parlon said crucial construction will continue.

“Infrastructure like water [and] health projects will continue, education projects will continue, and clearly the big IT, pharma projects and so on,” Parlon told Newstalk Breakfast.

He also hit back at suggestions that construction sites could be unsafe for workers.

“Sites have been exceptionally managed, and the degree of effort put in, both by workers and by site owners… has been absolutely massive,” he said.

It’s understood a number of ministers believed the entire construction industry should remain open.

Contains reporting from Christina Finn, Garreth MacNamee and Rónán Duffy

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