With the start of lockdown 3 this week, the Construction industry will need to continue to respond to the challenges of Covid-19, but what will it look like this time round and are there any lessons that can be learned from previous lockdowns in the past year?
The Government announced on Monday that we would enter into our third national lockdown. As one of the exceptions, the Construction industry was told to keep all sites open and continue working within the Government Covid-19 guidelines. However, there has been concern over this from some contractors, given that the new strain of coronavirus is reportedly 50-70% more contagious than the original strain, and hospital admissions are around 40% higher than they were at the peak of the virus in April.
It remains to be seen whether it will be possible for Construction sites to stay open safely this time round. Also, as Construction workers are not classed as “key workers” this time (except those constructing or supporting the operation of critical transport and border infrastructure through which supply chains pass) many will have to juggle childcare and home schooling with their jobs.
All in all, it is likely that many projects will be in delay this year; therefore it is key that parties carefully check any contracts they have already entered into to ensure they comply with any notice provisions relating to delay etc. We would be happy to review these and advise you in respect of the same. Alternatively, if you are about to enter into a Contract, both clients and Construction professionals alike will need to take care when drafting and negotiating the terms. Questions to consider include:
- Under which circumstances can extra time and money be claimed?
- Is there a force majeure clause?
- What are the grounds for termination and suspension?
Whilst hopefully the experience of two previous lockdowns will ensure the industry has the knowledge and resilience to deal with the challenges that lockdown 3 may present, we would be happy to advise clients who have any concerns about the effect of lockdown on any current projects, or who want advice on how to best protect themselves moving forwards.
On a positive note, we are delighted to announce that Sarah Western has been made up to Partner at Greene & Greene and heads up the Construction team. Over the past two years, Sarah has built the Construction team which is going from strength to strength and we look forward to continuing to work with our Construction clients in the coming year.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our clients for their business during 2020, and to wish you all a happy and healthy 2021!
This is only intended to be a summary and not specific legal advice. If you would like further information or advice on Construction Law, please do contact a member of our Construction team.