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AWB welcomes resumption of construction industry

OLYMPIA—The Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business association, welcomed the governor’s decision Friday to allow some “low-risk” construction projects to resume provided they meet newly created health and safety criteria.

“The spread of the coronavirus is both a public health crisis and an economic crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in a century,” said AWB President Kris Johnson. “We are encouraged the data shows the spread of the virus is slowing and remain hopeful the trend continues. Today’s news that some construction work will be allowed to resume soon was made possible thanks to the actions Washingtonians are taking, often at great sacrifice, to slow the spread of the virus.

“We need to continue doing everything we can to defeat this virus while also working to safely get people back to work and beginning the long process of rebuilding our economy,” Johnson added. “As many as 1 million Washingtonians are expected to be seeking unemployment insurance by next week, illustrating the enormous challenge facing our state.”

The governor’s decision to reopen parts of the construction industry in a phased approach came as a result of declining infections as well as the work of a small roundtable group that worked with the governor’s office to draft new safety and hygiene protocols for the industry.

“It was a great team effort with business and labor representatives working side by side,” said Michael Ennis, director of government affairs at AWB and a member of the construction roundtable. “Construction is a critical part of the state economy, not only because of the direct impact it creates through jobs, but also because it’s a linchpin for so many other parts of the economy that rely on the supply chain it supports.”

Ennis added: “We continue to work on the next two construction phases, and we’re hopeful the process will serve as a model for how to safely bring additional sectors of Washington’s economy back online at the appropriate time.”