Construction in Jersey during Covid-19

19 May 2020

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, temporary emergency legislation has been enacted by the Government of Jersey to regulate the operation of construction sites.

Covid-19 (Construction Work) (Jersey) Order 2020
The Covid-19 (Construction Work) (Jersey) Order 2020 (the "Order") was enacted on 22 April 2020, under the Covid-19 (Construction Work) (Jersey) Regulations 2020 (the "Regulations") enacted on the same day.

The Order applies to "relevant construction work", which essentially means any construction work undertaken during the Covid-19 period which is neither work being undertaken by a single construction worker, nor work being undertaken by an owner-builder of a dwelling.

The Order applies from 23 April 2020 and will remain in effect until all other Covid-19 restrictions are lifted by the government. The Regulations will expire on 30 September 2020.

Exempt construction works
Under the Order, construction can only be undertaken in the following circumstances:

Two individuals exemption
1. If the work is exempt due to it being undertaken by two individuals only at a site where no other person is present and:

  • those two individuals maintain a distance of at least 2m between each other; and
  • comply with any other relevant guidance issued by the Minister for Health and Social Services (the "Minister") or by the Medical Officer of Health (the "Medical Officer").

Emergency repairs and maintenance exemption
2. If the work is a necessary emergency repair or maintenance and it is undertaken by any number of individuals, being the number essential for the undertaking of the work in question, at a construction site at which no other person is present or the only other persons present reside at the site and:

  • each individual maintains a distance of at least 2m between each other; and
  • complies with any other relevant guidance issued by the Minister or by the Medical Officer.

Construction permit exemption
3. Where a permit has been granted by the Minister specifically for those works at the site.

Therefore, construction is prohibited unless it falls within one of the specified exemptions outlined above. However, even if an exemption applies, work will nonetheless be prohibited if the person carrying out the work has been diagnosed as infected with Covid-19 (and not subsequently medically cleared), or otherwise exhibits symptoms of Covid-19.

Construction permits
Permits are required for any construction activity or site where more than two people are present.

The Order provides that work undertaken under a permit is subject to three conditions:

  1. that the work must be undertaken in compliance with guidance published by the Minister or Medical Officer, that is relevant to that work, and is intended to limit the risk of spreading Covid-19;
  2. that the permit granted by the Minister must be in effect in relation to the work being undertaken at the site in question; and
  3. that the work must be undertaken in compliance with all of the conditions attaching to the permit.

The Minister has discretion over whether or not to grant a permit and may impose conditions to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19. These conditions must be followed, along with the following core conditions:

  • that a notice must be displayed on the outside of the site; and
  • that entry to the site must be granted to any person who shows authorisation from the Minister to inspect the site.

A permit may be granted for a limited period of time or indefinitely and it may be cancelled, after a warning is provided, if conditions are breached or if the Minister reasonably suspects that an offence under the Regulations has been committed at the site.

The Regulations confirm that there will be offences for failure to comply or allowing/failing to take reasonable steps to prevent restricted construction work and anyone found guilty of an offence is liable to an unlimited fine. It is also an offence to provide false or misleading information as part of the application for a permit and those who do so are liable to a fine and to imprisonment for a term of up to two years.

How to apply for a permit
A permit can be applied for here by completing an online form.

There are three permit categories:

  • Category A: for sites that provide critical national infrastructure and services;
  • Category B: for sites which provide public services; and
  • Category C: all other sites which can safely operate.

The applications will be prioritised by permit category and the applicant will need to demonstrate that they have considered how the social distancing and hygiene requirements can be carried out on their site.

The applicant will need to upload the following documents to complete the online form:

  • Covid-19 Site Specific Procedure Plan;
  • Covid-19 Project and site specific risk assessment;
  • Site induction documents;
  • Site layout plan; and
  • Site monitoring documentation.

Jersey's government has been quick to provide guidance on how construction sites should operate during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Order allows construction works to progress if the above conditions are met and introduces more site regulation to minimise the spread of Covid-19. Both contractors and employers should be aware of the restrictions and conditions which apply to their site in order to ensure compliance with the Order and Regulations.

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