Construction workers question Inslee’s new order

W McKay Construction

UPDATE: On Friday, McKay stated that he has stopped operations at all of his sites.

KENNEWICK, Wash. – Orders from Governor Jay Inslee regarding the coronavirus have seem pretty simple: “Stay home, stay healthy.” But his order for construction workers to stop working on their projects has caused confusion in the industry.

“In general, commercial and residential construction is not authorized under the proclamation because construction is not considered to be an essential activity,” Inslee said.

He gave three exceptions to this statement:

  • Construction related to essential activities.
  • Construction to further a public purpose.
  • Construction to address emergency repairs.

Will McKay, owner of W. McKay Construction, said by complying with Inslee’s order, there are a number of problems bound to come up.

He said, for example, as projects are put on hold, shipments will be an issue.

“I’m probably going to have to have insulation delivered next week, and I’m going to have to put a roof on it and stuff,” McKay said about a building that is halfway through construction.

McKay raised a lot of questions like, “If someone pulls in here and fines me, who is that person going to be? Is it going to be L & I? The police? The Fire Marshal? State Patrol?”

The third point on Inslee’s order dives into detail about preventing spoliation and unsafe conditions at both non-essential businesses and residential structures. For instance, the project that McKay is working on does not have a roof and his supplies are starting to arrive.

“My guys will probably be working next week,” McKay said.

In addition to the list that Inslee put together he also mentioned that “all construction activity must meet social distancing and appropriate health and worker protection measures before proceeding.”