Buildings Department halts non-essential construction work across New York City

The Manhattan district attorney  charged executives from Parkside Construction and Affinity HR with wage theft and insurance fraud at construction sites such as 111 57th St., right, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.
File photo/amNewYork

The city’s Department of Buildings ordered a pause Monday on all non-essential construction work, until further notice, due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The March 30 order that New York City Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca issued prohibits all unnecessary construction stopped, following through with an executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Only “essential construction” across the city may continue to proceed, including work involving roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, homeless shelters and affordable housing. Emergency work deemed necessary to remedy immediately unsafe conditions is also exempt from this order.

However, all workers on these projects must abide by proper social distancing practices, including the use of any elevators and spaces where workers take breaks or have lunch. For weeks, activists have expressed concern about ongoing construction during the coronavirus epidemic, as workers were working in conditions that did not make social distancing measures feasible.

Any site that “cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close,” the Buildings Department order noted. The state and Buildings Department will enforce this mandate, and violators will be subject to finds of up to $10,000.

Construction work “that is limited to a single worker who is the sole employee/worker on a job site” is exempt from the order.

Active building permits are valid through their original expiration date during the suspension of non-essential construction. The Buildings Department says they must be renewed “for as long as work is suspended.”

As of Tuesday, any firm that needs to perform emergency work at job sites must submit an Essential Construction Request at nyc.gov/dobnow.