UK construction firms split over coronavirus shutdown

Many of Britain’s biggest housebuilders and construction firms, including Persimmon, Barratt and Bellway, have shut their building sites in response to the coronavirus outbreak, while others including the London luxury home builder Berkeley Group have angered workers by refusing to halt work.

Berkeley, Crest Nicholson and Balfour Beatty are keeping their building sites open, while Redrow bowed to public pressure to close.

Redrow said on Wednesday it would temporarily suspend work at some of its construction sites, but “a number remain open to ensure that those customers about to move into their new property aren’t left without access to a home and the capability to isolate effectively”. It has also shut its sales centres.

A spokesperson for Berkeley said: “The government has confirmed that home building sites can continue to operate while implementing social distancing guidance. Berkeley sites have introduced stringent distancing and hygiene measures to minimise contact, reduce risks and keep everyone safe.”

The government has come under mounting pressure to bar work on building sites after ordering non-essential shops and other public places to close.

Construction workers, their families and members of the public have called on the government to order building sites to close and to provide financial help for self-employed people.