Coronavirus: NI building sites 'can continue to operate'

Construction workersImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Some construction work may be able to continue

Building sites can operate during the coronavirus pandemic, as long as they obey social distancing guidelines, the deputy first minister has said.

Michelle O'Neill made the announcement as she outlined a list of businesses which must close temporarily to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Ms O'Neill said she accepted there had been "confusion" around the position of construction workers.

She said the issue would be kept under review.

Speaking at the Northern Ireland Executive's daily coronavirus update, Ms O'Neill said all "non-essential" businesses should close.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) in Northern Ireland said all non-essential building work should stop.

The government has published details on jobs deemed to be essential following the introduction of stricter social distancing rules introduced on Monday.

The CEF, which represents Northern Ireland's major building firms, said: "Following the statement by the prime minister last night [Monday], it is our view that, with the exception of essential works in support of the fight against Covid-19, non-essential construction work should cease."

It defines essential construction as work supporting health, emergency services and other works essential to the safety of the public.