MARCH 27 UPDATE on CONSTRUCTION IN AUSTIN
 
The Austin AGC wants to keep you informed on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and its impact on construction activity.  In addition to regular emails such as this, we are frequently posting information on our LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter social media outlets, so be sure sure to follow those as well.  

1. GENERAL INFORMATION & RESOURCES
 
The AGC of America (AGCA) has an abundance of information on their website here about the fast-evolving coronavirus issue and its impact on construction.  The site is updated often, so please continue to check it every day for resources to educate you and your employees.   The Austin AGC website now has a page  as well for all of our e-mail updates and other resources.

Today the AGCA also provided an analysis of the The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: passed by Congress this week and how will it impact construction.

2.  AUSTIN & TEXAS CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY

As you are now well aware, Austin is the only major city in Texas with restrictions on commercial and residential construction.  On Tuesday morning, the City of Austin order published their Stay Home-Work Safe order  and the one for Travis County is here.  The City's subsequent "Guidance for the  Construction Industry" document was published late Tuesday and intended to provide further clarification for builders.  However it immediately caused mass confusion as to what can or cannot be built here at this time.

For now, we can tell you that public work (AISD, ACC, public works etc...) here will continue.    Further, projects related to an "essential service" (as defined in the Orders) are continuing as well from what we are seeing/hearing, though defining "essential" can be a challenge.  Meanwhile multi-family and condo projects are shutting down, generally, unless providing affordable housing. If you have any questions about your projects, please contact me and I will try to provide guidance, or find somebody who can.

For projects shutting down, the deadline is midnight tonight. However, the Development Services Department issued guidance on Thursday allowing extra time to address safety issues if needed.  The building restrictions continue until April 13.

3. AUSTIN AGC ADVOCACY EFFORTS
 
The Austin AGC has been extremely active and working with like-minded industry groups in urging City leaders to allow construction here to continue. Here is the group letter we sent to the Mayor and County Judge on Wednesday. Similar efforts are underway by our AGC Texas Building Branch organization at the State level.

We are also working with a very large group of general contractors that perform work here to coordinate industry action and advocacy in response to the City and County orders. 

We are also aware that a member of the local building community has started an online petition to Keep Austin Building.  Please share this with anyone who supports the construction industry!

Over the next 3-5 days we do not anticipate any substantial changes to the City Order or to the Guidance for the Construction Industry document, but there could be additional clarifying guidance provided by the City or County.  Also at this time, we are not aware of any effort by the Governor to establish a statewide policy for construction activity.  All that being said, this is an unprecedented public crisis we find ourselves in and so we cannot rule out that a change may come at any time from either City, State or even Federal authorities.

Please be assured we are working very hard on behalf of our commercial building industry. This has been a long week, but this has also served as a reminder why the Austin AGC has been here in Austin since 1946:  to serve as the collective voice and resource for our local commercial construction industry.  

4. JOBSITE SAFETY, NOW MORE THAN EVER

Providing jobsite safety services has been an important part of the Austin AGC for decades, but with the arrival of COVID-19 we need to be more vigilant than ever against the spread of this virus via construction activity.   AGC of America has resources  to assist in that effort and will continue to share those safety resources to any and all members of the construction community, regardless of whether they are members of our association. We also encourage you to read this message from AGC of America President Steve Sandherr on this topic.  

5. LEGAL GUIDANCE

We are fortunate that our industry partners in the legal world are regularly writing and sharing expert guidance for contractors during this challenging time.  We strongly encourage you to check the websites of the construction law firms below for the latest information they provide.


As always, both myself and Chapter Safety Director Michael Welvaert are available at any time to help you and your company address coronavirus issues as they impact construction activity.  Do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,


Phil Thoden
President and CEO
Austin Chapter AGC
512.442.7887