The construction industry appears set to remain open for the foreseeable future after a senior state minister said there were no plans for a shutdown at this stage.

Responding to questions from Sourceable during a webinar organised last Friday by the Committee For Sydney, NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes cautioned that he could not foresee with certainly what further restrictions may be needed as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

But he said there were no plans to lock down building at this stage.

“I can’t look into a crystal ball as to what further restrictions might be in the pipeline,” Stokes said.

“I can say that from everything I know at this stage, there are no plans to go further. The advice that I have to date is that the restrictions that we have in place are doing what they have been designed to achieve and that there is no need to look to go any further at this stage.”

Whilst Stokes deals only with New South Wales, he says discussions with other planning ministers from around the country indicated that there are no intentions for building sector shutdowns.

Indeed, as he was speaking, Stokes had not long finished a conference call with other planning ministers.

“At that forum, it was made clear that there are no plans for further shutdowns of the construction industry,” he said.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but that is the latest advice from about half an hour ago.”

Around the world, the building sector has been locked down in several countries amid ongoing efforts to contain the virus’ spread.

In New Zealand, sites have been closed except for those whose activities relate to essential services, critical infrastructure or immediate health or safety at work or home.

In the US, states such as Washington and New York have shut down non-essential building work.

In Australia, several workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

These include a worker on a six-tower Multiplex project at Melbourne Square on March 31 and a Kane Construction subcontractor at the University of Melbourne’s New Student Precinct earlier last month.

Nonetheless, earlier fears of a sector-wide shutdown have not materialised after Federal Cabinet deemed the industry to be an essential service.