As coronavirus cases continue to surge across the Island, Martha’s Vineyard public health officials are planning to reintroduce Islandwide restrictions on the construction and building industry at a Zoom forum Thursday evening, pledging strict enforcement.
The restrictions were discussed at a meeting Wednesday morning that took place between Island town administrators and health agents. The new restrictions would mirror phase two of the construction moratorium that was instituted during the pandemic’s initial statewide spike back in April, according to Tisbury health agent Maura Valley.
Phase two of the construction moratorium limits job sites to 10 workers and requires all of them to fill out daily wellness checks and maintain social distance. Violations of the order can result in a maximum $1,000 daily fine and can be enforced by health agents, building inspects, police or other authorized town officials. Enforcement agents can also suspend work on the site.
The reintroduction of the restrictions comes as health officials have noted that a large number of the recent cases on the Island have been traced back to the trades.
On Wednesday, the town of Tisbury — which has seen the largest spike in cases in recent weeks and was recently designated a high risk community for Covid-19 spread by the state — issued a release saying the town would crack down on construction violations with increased enforcement as well.
Tisbury town officials said that while the majority of the recent cases come from the town, there has also been a surge Islandwide, prompting the need for increased restrictions and enforcement from health agents.
The Martha’s Vineyard Builders’ Association, which is an advocacy group representing more than 120 independent Island contractors or tradespeople, is generally supportive of discussion regarding the revamped restrictions and enforcement and plans to hold a Zoom meeting today with contractors and health agents.
“We will hear from island boards of health and building inspectors on the state of the spread and what can be done on the job site and at home to keep your community and your job safe,” the builders’ association said in its own release. “We will have materials to help establish company policy, support workplace conversations and enforce best practices…Join us and together we can hold back the tide, and protect our families, friends, neighbors, and our jobs.”
The construction industry, booming since the summer, was almost entirely shut down back in April, with health officials and town selectmen concerned about ferry travel to the Island, among other things. An Islandwide construction moratorium, modeled after a similar order on Nantucket, was instituted for two weeks that essentially limited job sites to a pair of workers. Larger job sites were then slowly reintroduced through phases over the next two months of the spring.
The meeting Thursday is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Zoom. A link for attendance is available here: https://zoom.us/j/93799163142?pwd=bmF4dGh4TTdKMEZHaTN4Uy9mbFVFQT09.