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Cornelius News

What does ‘essential’ mean for construction?


March 31. By Dave Vieser. Halting construction work as a result of the coronavirus varies from state to state and hinges on what is considered “essential.”  It’s a big deal for workers and residents alike.

In Cornelius, for example, work continues daily on projects such as the new Chick-fil-A on West Catawba Avenue, as well as Cook Out which is renovating the old Pizza Hut across the street. Likewise, site prep continues on the QT convenience store at US 21 and Catawba, along with new homes on West Catawba west of Nantz Road.

In addition to medical offices, construction, auto-related businesses and grocery stores, other essential businesses as per the NC governor’s order includes ABC stores and beer and wine stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, post offices, veterinarians and hotels, airlines, buses and ride-share services.

Threading the eye of a needle?

Despite more stringent regulations in some other states, construction work right now is within the letter of the law in North Carolina.

“Building construction and road construction is permitted under Governor Cooper’s Stay at Home Executive Order,” said Town Manager Andrew Grant.

North Carolina’s coronavirus rules spell out a wide list of what is considered essential construction: “construction including but not limited to construction required in response to this public health emergency; hospital construction; construction of long-term care facilities; public works construction; school construction, and essential commercial and housing construction.

Different approach in NY

It’s very different in some other states, especially in the hard-hit Northeast. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said that “non-essential construction must be stopped,” with efforts focused on building four new hospitals in the New York City area, including at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Cuomo said the state needs to increase the number of hospital beds to 140,000 from 53,000.

Work on a new home for the NHL New York Islanders is among those massive public works
projects where construction work has been halted.

All of these rules are not set in stone and changes can be made if needed. For example, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has been under extreme pressure to declare a Stay in Place order in the Palmetto State, but he has not yet done so.

Cuomo’s executive order does not specify a time frame for the stoppage of non-essential construction but workers did not show for work Monday at the new Islanders arena to be located on Long Island near the Queens/Nassau border.

NY is defining essential construction as roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing and homeless shelters.