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By: Kendall Jones on April 28th, 2020

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How COVID-19 Is Affecting Construction Bidding & Jobsite Activity

Construction Industry News | COVID-19

The current health crisis caused by COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the construction industry. State-ordered work stoppages in some states as well as delayed and canceled projects are starting to take a toll on contractors as they are forced to lay off workers and develop plans to weather the storm.

It’s been 12 23 27 29 48 days since the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. In the U.S., as of March 23 April 3 April 7 April 9 April 15 April 28, there have been approximately 38,500 245,000 360,000 450,000 670,000 1 million cases and over 400 6,000 10,000 16,000 34,000 57,000 deaths due to the virus.

Note: This article was originally published on March 23, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

Last Updated: April 28, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.

The situation is really starting to worsen as we’re seeing more states, counties, and cities choose to close nonessential businesses or issue some sort of “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders. These include states like California, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania.

For the most part, construction activity has been included as essential activity that can continue with business as usual during these orders. Workers should try and maintain a 6-foot separation from others as much as possible and follow the CDC’s guidelines for protecting themselves from being exposed to the coronavirus.

Construction Bidding Activity

Here at ConstructConnect, we are still seeing a healthy number of new bidding opportunities (public and private) coming in, both in the U.S. and Canada. For the U.S., new public opportunities during the week of March 16 were down -3.62% and new private project bids were down -8.62% compared to the same time last year.

We also looked at projects that were currently bidding within the next 60 days with a mandatory pre-bid meeting scheduled for March 18 – 20, 2020. Of those:

  • 63.1% of the meetings were as scheduled
  • 14.1% of the meetings dates were extended
  • 16.5% of the meetings were cancelled

Bid dates were also verified on the projects mentioned above:

  • 80% of the bid dates are currently scheduled to open as originally advertised
  • 10.3% have been extended
  • 9.7% have been cancelled

Note: The above data is current as of March 24, 2020.

We will continue to monitor and update information on bidding opportunities as they come in.

If you want to know about specific project bids being delayed or canceled, please check out our FREE Delayed Projects reports.

delayed projects reports

Jobsite Activity

As more state, county, and city agencies issue orders to “shelter in place” or “stay at home” in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus and flatten the curve, we are starting to see some construction activity halted and jobsites being temporarily shut down.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) recently released a survey of their members regarding active projects and those expected to start in the next 30 days. For those projects, 28% of respondents said that they had been directed by an owner, government agency, or official to halt or delay starting on those projects.

For projects with start dates more than 30 days from now, 11% stated they had been instructed to halt or delay any work on those projects for the time being.

Delays and disruptions are also occurring due to a shortage of materials and equipment (16%), craftworkers (11%), government workers to issue permits, perform inspections, and award contracts (18%). Another 8% responded they had disruptions due to an infected individual entering a jobsite and possible infecting it and 14% stated they hadn’t had any delays due to any of these reasons.

Getting materials and building supplies is also starting to potentially affect construction schedules with 22% of respondents acknowledging they or their subs have been notified that deliveries will be delayed or cancelled.

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Timeline of Jobsite Delays and Disruptions  

While it appears that construction is continuing across most of the country, that could quickly change if stricter guidelines are enacted or if government agencies decide to make adjustments to what they consider essential work.

Also, if county and city building and planning departments start shutting down, it could put a halt to current and upcoming construction projects because permits aren’t being issued and inspections aren’t being conducted, regardless of whether construction is allowed to continue.

Here’s a timeline of what we know so far regarding construction stoppage as a result of the coronavirus:

March 16, 2020 – PennDOT closed all district and county maintenance offices until March 30. All construction projects have been suspended until further notice.

Week of March 16, 2020 – The South Dakota DOT offices are closed until March 30. Construction was halted on all but two high priority projects and March 18 bid lettings were postponed until March 25. DOT staff are expected to be working remotely to perform essential functions and construction projects were expected to resume this week.

March 17, 2020 – The City of Boston was the first major city to shut down all construction activity, except for emergency work. Employers have until March 23 to secure their jobsites after which only skeleton crews will be allowed on sites to ensure safety until the suspension is lifted.

March 17, 2020 – Seven San Francisco Bay Area counties issued a shelter in place order until April 7. All construction projects must temporarily shut down with the exception of public works and all housing construction. The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection is resuming operation this week with limited services to keep those projects moving.

March 17, 2020 – Walt Disney World shut down all construction activity. There are a number of new attractions and resorts under construction including: the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser resort, TRON Lightcycle Run, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

March 18, 2020 – Cambridge, MA issued a “Temporary Emergency Construction Moratorium on all construction activity on both public and private property until further notice.”

March 18, 2020 – Shell Chemical Appalachia announced they were temporarily suspending construction on their petrochemical plant in Potter, PA. Construction on the $6 billion ethane cracker plant began back in November 2017 and had about 7,000 workers on the jobsite before the shutdown. Construction is expected to resume in phases once new mitigations measure are in place.

Update: The Shell cracker plant is gradually ramping back up construction by adding another 200 workers to the site next week, joining the 300 currently on-site doing repairs and maintenance work.

March 19, 2020 - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe ordered all "non-life-sustaining" businesses to close their physical locations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This includes all residential and nonresidential construction. Enforcement of this order was pushed back to March 23 at 8:00 a.m. to allow businesses to complete waivers to remain open. Businesses cannot reopen until their waiver has been reviewed and approved.

March 20, 2020 - In Pennsylvania, a revised list was issued that exempted emergency repairs for the construction industry from being considered nonessential as well as allowing all healthcare construction to continue.

March 23, 2020 - Washington Governor Jay Inslee ordered all nonessential businesses to cease operations starting at midnight on March 25 and running through at least April 8. This includes construction sites and project except for those deemed essential like infrastructure and healthcare facilities.

March 23, 2020 - Disneyland and Disney California Adventure have halted construction on all current and upcoming construction and renovation projects including: for work on Marvel’s Avengers Campus, the Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s House, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain, Tom Sawyer’s Island, and Disneyland’s Frontierland entrance.

March 23, 2020 - Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered all noncritical businesses to close beginning at midnight on March 24 and running through at least April 13. This includes construction with a few exceptions such as "construction to maintain and improve essential public works like roads, bridges, the telecommunications infrastructure, and public health infrastructure. Construction workers may also undertake such projects as necessary to maintain and improve the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of residences. In addition, businesses may designate construction firms to provide necessary support to the work of the businesses' critical infrastructure workers."

Michigan State University, as a result of the governor's executive order has stopped work on all construction projects.

March 23, 2020 - Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a stay-at-home order for the city starting March 24 and running through April 7, except for essential businesses and activities. Public works construction was on the list as being essential but it is unclear if any commercial construction can continue during this time.

March 25, 2020 - Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued a memorandum to the stay-at-home order stating that in general, commercial and residential construction was not considered essential. There are a few exceptions, including for construction related to essential activities identified in the original order.

March 27, 2020 - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo halted construction on almost construction projects. Only projects deemed essential by the state can continue work and include things like roads, bridges, hospitals and healthcare facilities, and affordable housing. Contractors who do not comply with the new measure could faces fines of up to $10,000 in fines per violation.

We will continue to monitor the situation as closely as possible and update this post as new information is made available.

If you know of any jobsites or areas where construction is being shut down, please let us know in the comments.

States With “Stay at Home” Orders and What Construction is Essential

Many states have extended their stay at home orders and are coordinating with other states in their region to execute a reopening plan.

Alabama - Effective April 4

"Construction and construction-related services, including building and construction, lumber, building materials and hardware businesses, electricians, plumbers, other construction tradesmen and tradeswomen, exterminators; cleaning and janitorial, HVACR and water heating businesses; painting, moving and relocating services, other skilled trades, and other related construction firms and professionals for maintaining essential infrastructure"

Alaska – Effective March 28

“public works construction, construction of housing”

Arizona – Effective March 31

“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, and housing construction)”

California – Effective March 19

“Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction)”

Colorado – Effective March 26

“Construction, Including but not Limited To:

  • Housing and housing for low-income and vulnerable people
  • Skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers
  • Other related firms and professionals for who provide services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and critical operation of residences and other Critical Businesses or Critical Government Functions, and other essential services”

Connecticut – Effective March 23

Construction including:
• all skilled trades such as electricians, HVAC, and plumbers 
• general construction, both commercial and residential
• other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes
• planning, engineering, design, bridge inspection, and other construction support activities”

Delaware – Effective March 24

All construction can continue

District of Columbia – Effective April 1

“Construction and building trades, including plumbers, electricians, exterminators, carpenters, “big box” supply stores, HVAC distributors, and businesses that sell supplies and materials for the maintenance of commercial and residential buildings and homes”

Florida - Effective April 3

Construction activity can continue. Governor Ron DeSantis is planning to accelerate some highway infrastructure projects citing reduced traffic as a result of the pandemic.

Georgia - Effective April 3

Construction work can continue. Back on March 20, Governor Brian Kemp suspended waiting periods for contractors to be able to use private firms for code inspections and plan reviews.

Hawaii – Effective March 25

“Critical trades. Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential businesses and operations”

Idaho – Effective March 25

“Essential infrastructure, including:

-Public works construction

-Commercial construction

-Construction of housing (in particular affordable housing or housing for individuals experiencing homelessness)”

Illinois – Effective March 21

Construction is considered essential.

Indiana – Effective March 24

“Building, construction, and other trades, including, but not limited to, plumbers, electricians…”

Kansas  - Effective March 30

“Provide and Maintain Critical Infrastructure

  1. Construct or repair roads
  2. Construction, maintain, or clean buildings”

Kentucky - Effective March 26

“Building and construction” were on the list of businesses that can stay open.

Louisiana – Effective March 23

Construction can continue.

Maine – Effective April 2

“construction and maintenance of essential infrastructure”

Maryland – Effective March 30

“Building and property maintenance companies, including without limitation plumbers, electricians, HVAC service companies, roofers, environmental services companies, exterminators, arborists, and landscapers.”

Massachusetts – Effective March 24

“construction of critical or strategic infrastructure”

A number of cities, including Boston and Cambridge, have shut down construction.

Michigan – Effective March 24

“construction of critical or strategic infrastructure”

Minnesota - Effective March 25


  • Workers supporting construction of all kind
  • Workers in the skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers, HVAC and elevator technicians”

Mississippi - Effective April 1

"Construction and construction related services including building and construction, lumber, building materials and hardware, electricians, plumbers, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial, HVACR and water heating industry, painting, moving and relocating services, other skilled trades, and other related construction firms and professionals for maintaining essential infrastructure"

Missouri - Effective April 6

It appears that construction can continue.

Montana - Effective March 28

“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, and housing construction)”

Nevada - Effective April 1

"Essential infrastructure operations like construction & manufacturing, agriculture, and utilities"

New Hampshire – Effective March 27

“Construction Workers who support the construction, operation, inspection, and maintenance of construction sites and construction projects (including housing construction)

New Jersey – Effective March 21

On April 8, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered that all nonessential construction be shut down starting on April 10 at 8:00 p.m.

“Essential” construction include:

  1. Projects necessary for the delivery of health care services, including but not limited to hospitals, other health care facilities and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities;
  2. Transportation projects, including roads, bridges and mass transit facilities or physical infrastructure, including work done at airports and seaports;
  3. Utility projects, including those necessary for energy and electricity production and transmission, and any decommissioning of facilities used for electricity generation;
  4. Residential projects that are exclusively designated as affordable housing;
  5. Projects involving pre-K-12 schools, including but not limited to projects in Schools Development Authority districts, and projects involving higher education facilities;
  6. Projects already underway involving individual single-family homes, or an individual apartment unit where an individual already resides, with a construction crew of 5 or fewer individuals. This includes additions to single-family homes such as solar panels;
  7. Projects already underway involving a residential unit for which a tenant or buyer has already entered into a legally binding agreement to occupy the unit by a certain date, and construction is necessary to ensure the unit’s availability by that date;
  8. Projects involving facilities at which any one or more of the following takes place: the manufacture, distribution, storage, or servicing of goods or products that are sold by online retail businesses or essential retail businesses, as defined by Executive Order No. 107 (2020) and subsequent Administrative Orders adopted pursuant to that Order;
  9. Projects involving data centers or facilities that are critical to a business’s ability to function;
  10. Projects necessary for the delivery of essential social services, including homeless shelters;
  11. Any project necessary to support law enforcement agencies or first responder units in their response to the COVID-19 emergency;
  12. Any project that is ordered or contracted for by Federal, State, county, or municipal government, or any project that must be completed to meet a deadline established by the Federal government;
  13. Any work on a non-essential construction project that is required to physically secure the site of the project, ensure the structural integrity of any buildings on the site, abate any hazards that would exist on the site if the construction were to remain in its current condition, remediate a site, or otherwise ensure that the site and any buildings therein are appropriately protected and safe during the suspension of the project; and
  14. Any emergency repairs necessary to ensure the health and safety of residents.

New Mexico – Effective March 24

“public works construction, commercial and residential construction and maintenance,”

“those attendant to the repair and construction of roads and highways”

New York - Effective March 22

  • All nonessential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site).
  • Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
  • For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.

North Carolina – Effective March 30

“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)”

Ohio – Effective March 23

“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, essential business construction, and housing construction)”

Oregon – Effective March 23

Construction can continue, social distancing must be maintained.


April 23, 2020 Update: On April 22, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe announced a phased reopening of the state starting May 8 with construction among the previously nonessential industries allowed to get back to work. The following day, Governor Wolfe confirmed that all construction projects, private and public, could restart a week earlier on May 1.

Only construction of healthcare facilities can continue, the only other exception is for emergency repairs.

Rhode Island – Effective March 28

Construction work can continue.

South Carolina - Effective April 7

Construction is considered essential.

Tennessee – Effective March 31

“construction required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care facilities, public works construction, school construction, construction related to Essential Activity or Essential Services, and housing construction;”

Texas - Effective April 2

Construction is considered essential.

Vermont – Effective March, 25

“construction necessary to support the COVID-19 response and maintain critical infrastructure”

Virginia – Effective March 30

Construction work can continue.

Washington - Effective March 23

April 24, 2020 Update: Governor Jay Inslee is allowing construction to resume for projects that were already underway prior to the stay at home order. This is only if those projects can maintain social distancing of six feet for all workers.

Contractors are also required to have a COVID-19 safety plan on each jobsite, a COVID-19 Site Supervisor to monitor the health of workers and enforce the safety plan, and provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) including eye protection and face masks that must be work at all time. All requirements are laid out in the governor's Phase 1 Construction Restart COVID-19 Job Site Requirements.

“In general, commercial and residential construction is not authorized under the proclamation because construction is not considered to be an essential activity.

"However, an exception to the order allows for construction in the following limited circumstances: 

  1. a) Construction related to essential activities as described in the order;
  2. b) To further a public purpose related to a public entity or governmental function or facility, including but not limited to publicly financed low-income housing; or
  3. c) To prevent spoliation and avoid damage or unsafe conditions, and address emergency repairs at both non-essential businesses and residential structures.

"To that end, it is permissible for workers who are building, construction superintendents, tradesmen, or tradeswomen, or other trades including, but not limited to, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, laborers, sheet metal, iron workers, masonry, pipe trades, fabricators, heavy equipment and crane operators, finishers, exterminators, pesticide applicators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC technicians, painting, moving and relocation services, forestry and arborists, and other service providers to provide services consistent with this guidance.

"All construction activity must meet social distancing and appropriate health and worker protection measures before proceeding.”

West Virginia - Effective March 24

“construction (including without limitation construction as required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care facilities, public works construction, school construction, essential business construction, and housing construction)”

Wisconsin – Effective March 25

“construction (including, but not limited to, construction required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care and assisted living facilities, public works construction, school construction, Essential Business and Operations construction, construction necessary for Essential Governmental Functions, and housing construction, except that optional or aesthetic construction should be avoided)”

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About Kendall Jones

Kendall Jones is the Editor in Chief at ConstructConnect. He has been writing about the construction industry for years, covering a wide range of topics from safety and technology to industry news and operating insights.

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