Construction workers return to sites around Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon gave the go-ahead last week for a 'gradual' resumption of work in the sector.

Construction workers are beginning to return to building sites around the country after last week’s loosening of restrictions on the sector.

The First Minister gave the go-ahead last Thursday for the construction industry to move to the next stage of its recovery plan.

It allows for workers to “gradually” begin to return to construction sites with physical distancing and hand hygiene protocols in place.

Since phase one out of lockdown began at the end of May, work to prepare construction sites for the return of workers has been under way.

Nicola Sturgeon said she is hopeful Scotland can start the move to phase two of its route map out of lockdown at the end of this week.

But she said the Scottish Government had judged immediate progress could be made to ease lockdown measures on construction.

It means contractors can start to slowly build up workforces to optimum capacity while social distancing remains in force.

Around Scotland, bricklayers, joiners, tilers, pipefitters, engineers, quantity surveyors and other construction-based professionals are returning to work, such as staff at Lochlie Construction Group in Glasgow.

Initially, the firm plans to only have a site manager and a maximum of two workers on a site at any one time.

The Cruden Group, which has bases in Glasgow and Edinburgh, will use only around a third of its workforce at first on its sites around the country as it builds up staff capacity.

Local authorities including Clackmannanshire and Highland have announced the resumption of work on council house build programmes.

It comes as Scotland’s housing sector said the Scottish Government needs to build a further 53,000 affordable homes by 2026.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Association (SFHA) and Shelter Scotland said the lockdown and pause in construction activity means Scotland will miss its new homes target next year despite having previously been on track to meet it.

The group said: “As we seek to rebuild the country, the need for housing is likely to be greater than ever – both for Scotland’s people and its economy.”

In the north of Scotland, construction is resuming on Monday on four schools, including the £42m replacement for Lossiemouth High School in Moray, and two community hospitals.

In England and Wales, construction work has been permitted over the course of the lockdown.

In Scotland, all construction sites were closed except works considered essential.

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