Essential Construction Businesses Redefined

A new health order has established further limits on what is considered an essential business activity, including construction.

On March 16, residents and businesses in Alameda County were ordered to shelter in place, with exceptions made for certain essential activities, business and government services as well as public infrastructure construction. A new health order issued March 31 and continues until Sunday, May 3. The order clarifies, strengthens and extends certain terms of the prior order to reduce person-to-person contact in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the impact on our healthcare system.

In the new order, most construction activities are prohibited, with exemptions for certain types, such as healthcare facilities, affordable housing, public works projects, shelters and temporary housing, projects that serve vulnerable individuals. Construction necessary to secure an existing construction site, and limited essential repairs are also exempt. 

Under the order, affordable housing projects are defined as “multi-unit or multi-use developments containing at least 10 percent income-restricted units.” In Alameda, most housing projects in progress contain the required affordable units.

As both orders were issued by the Alameda County health officer, the City of Alameda does not have a regulatory role with respect to the order. Of course, all law enforcement agencies, including the Alameda Police Department (APD), are authorized by the order to appropriately enforce compliance with the order. 

APD officers will continue their efforts to protect the community and discourage general criminal activity, as APD did prior to the pandemic. If a violation of the health order is seen (such as large gatherings), officers will make reasonable efforts to educate first and take enforcement actions if necessary.  

The public health and safety of Alameda residents is of paramount importance to the city. This new order issued by the county health officer is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives. 

Contact Sun staff at editor@alamedasun.com.