The CIF is deeply disappointed with the Government’s decision to extend its lockdown of parts of the construction industry. HSE monitoring of the construction industry has consistently shown no negligible levels of Covid-19 cases associated with the construction industry.
The industry is an international exemplar of safety and operating under Covid-19 and has proven it can operate at full capacity without contributing to the spread of Covid-19 in the community. The extension of the partial lockdown in construction will now see 800 homes per week taken out of supply. Over 60,000 construction employees are now on PUP and thousands of their jobs are permanently threatened. Thousands of the 50,000 plus SMEs in the industry are now facing huge uncertainty. The impact on Ireland’s attractiveness to foreign direct investment is incalculable at boardroom level as this lockdown disproportionately impacts private sector investment and no other country has locked down construction. This is an unforced error for Ireland Inc as there are no benefits in preventing Covid-19 set against the huge societal and economic costs to those suffering in the housing crisis, the wider economy and Ireland’s international reputation.
Since January 4th the industry has been operating at approximately 40% capacity with minimal cases on sites even whilst the new variant of Covid-19 has spiked in the community. Construction workers are adhering to the agreed safety protocols that are as relatively robust as those in the medical setting. Other sectors that are currently allowed to keep operating are doing so with minimal safety protocols and have seen large increases in cases and outbreaks.
The reality is that this lockdown only affects people’s wealth not health. The CIF estimates that the current lockdown has already taken 8,000 homes out of supply for 2021. Last year’s six-week lockdown wiped circa €3billion off industry output. This lockdown’s impact could be even greater due to lower commencement levels of activity, particularly in the housing and commercial sectors. Extending restrictions on housing beyond March 5th could take 800 homes a week out of 2021/2022 supply.
The CIF will continue to press the Government to consider the industry’s safety record and the wider evidence and allow the industry to reopen entirely at the earliest date.