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Coronavirus: Work suspended on £360m UU campus after worker tests positive

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

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Construction work on Ulster University's (UU) new Belfast campus has been suspended after a worker tested positive for Covid-19.

A university spokesperson said the site would be closed until 26 October as a result.

The £360m campus is being built on a site on York Street.

The contractor Somague/Sacyr is responsible for completing the campus, one of the biggest higher education building projects in Europe.

A number of safety measures have been put in place to enable construction to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, a university spokesperson confirmed to BBC News NI that a member of the Somague/Sacyr team had tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

"The person was asymptomatic," they said.

"Given the nature of their role, the individual had been in contact with all site health and safety staff.

"With the health and safety staff now self-isolating in line with all PHA and government guidelines, Somague/Sacyr must close the site until 26 October in order to protect the wellbeing of the wider workforce on the site."

"With the health and safety of the workforce as the key priority, this temporary closure is regrettable but necessary."

'On track for opening date'

There have been a number of previous delays to the project.

However, the UU spokesperson said work had progressed throughout 2020.

"Our building programme is currently on track for an opening date of September 2021," they said.

"It is too early to tell what impact this temporary suspension will have on the build programme.

"We remain in close contact with our contractors and sub-contractors to monitor the situation and plan accordingly."

"Somague/Sacyr and the university remain in close contact with the PHA and continue to adhere to all government guidelines to ensure the safety of all those associated with the construction."

When finished, UU's Belfast campus is expected to accommodate around 15,000 students and staff.

On Wednesday, Queen's University said that it was moving more teaching online until January 2021 with only "essential and unavoidable" face to face teaching to continue.

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