Chief executive says 2m social distancing rule on sites is not practical

Sir Robert McAlpine is the latest contractor to admit the government’s 2m social distancing guideline is increasingly difficult to enforce and has begun shutting down its sites.

Chief executive Paul Hamer said: “Given the most recent developments we do not believe we should be asking our people to travel on public transport. We cannot operate canteens on our sites; we are not classified as key workers; and upholding the social distancing rule is unfeasible on some of our projects.”

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McAlpine has now begun shutting sites

McAlpine, whose jobs include the Channel 4 headquarters in Leeds and a headquarters building for Deutsche Bank in the City of London, said most of its sites will be closed to all but essential safety and security employees.

It added: “The only sites that remain operational are those where it is absolutely safe to do so and where critical work, such as building hospitals continues, or where we are putting safe shutdown plans into operation.

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“While this will have a detrimental impact on progress and impact heavily on our people, we recognise that this action is in the best interests of wider society. It is quite simply the right thing to do.”

Yesterday a number of contractors and hosuebuilders said they would be shutting construction sites down despite government ministers insisting it should be possible to keep works going if operating procedures were followed correctly.

More firms, including Persimmon and McCarthy & Stone, have followed suit today.