The Commonwealth and NSW Governments have announced further measures to control COVID-19 over recent days. They have introduced further restrictions on social gathering, travel, and restrictions on some types of service businesses.
There are no specific restrictions on construction projects, or on travelling to and from work. Some public health orders, such as the order on gatherings, provide specific exemptions for workplaces including construction sites. There is no list of permitted essential activities. If a particular activity is not explicitly controlled under a public health order, it can continue. The best source of information is the NSW Health website where public health orders can be found.
Governments have been clear that they seek to both control the infection rate of the virus, and also maintain economic activity and jobs as much as possible.
After discussion among NSW Government agencies, the following principles will guide our conduct for projects and businesses affected by the virus or related control measures:
1. Contractors are encouraged to talk to their NSW Government agency clients as soon as possible to allow a cooperative approach to mitigation. Conversely, agencies should reach out to contractors.
2. Each project will be managed on a case by case basis to address the particular circumstances, and each will require information the causes behind potential delays, and solutions tailored to the circumstances;
3. Government clients will work cooperatively with contractors to seek solutions that maximize the chance of achieving good project outcomes for client, contractor, subcontractors, employees and suppliers;
4. For projects in delivery, Government clients recognise that COVID-19 may introduce delivery risks that could not have been foreseen, mitigated or priced at the time contracts were executed (noting the commercial arrangements vary);
5. For projects not yet contracted, Government clients will consider industry feedback and an approach that recognises the risks created by COVID-19 over the upcoming period;
6. As a matter of reciprocity, contractors will be expected to:
a. seek Government flexibility and cooperation only for matters related to COVID-19, and not for pre-existing project performance issues or unrelated delays
b. propose changes only to the extent required to mitigate the effects of COVID-19
c. mitigate delays and costs, demonstrate flexibility in doing so, and promptly provide information on anticipated delays and strategies
d. protect and utilise insurance arrangements that can mitigate impacts
e. act cooperatively with other contractors on the project
f. treat subcontractors, consultants and suppliers in a similar manner, and reflect changes in arrangements in those contracts;
7. Discussions and problem solving should occur between client agencies (project teams) and contractor project teams, with escalation according to usual mechanisms.