Building work is continuing on some 80 Dublin City Council housing renovation projects, despite restrictions on construction imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Government shut down construction sites as part of the new tighter restrictions on movement to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
An exemption has been put in place for the construction of “essential health and related projects” relevant to the coronavirus crisis. No exemption was made for general social housing projects.
However, the council said it was continuing work on the renovation of “void properties” – social homes that are vacant and require refurbishment before they can be re-let to tenants.
The homes in question would be allocated to homeless people, the council said.
“The provision of housing for homeless accommodation is deemed an essential public service during the current crisis. Dublin City Council’s contractors are working in vacant units to provide this service,” it said.
The new restrictions allow “homeless services” to remain open and allow those providing homeless services to attend work.
Residents of one small-scale north Dublin apartment block said they were concerned about the presence of construction workers on site.
“This apartment has been vacant for a number of months and myself and the other apartment owners, particularly older owners, are concerned about having people coming in and out during this particular period, when this work could have been done some time ago,” one resident said.
The construction workers, who began work two weeks ago, had not initially been using gloves or masks he said, but did wear them following requests from residents.
In addition to residents’ concerns around the spread of the virus, the work was very disruptive to residents who were now largely confined to their homes, he said, adding, “They are making an enormous racket with their drilling, etc, when residents like myself are trying to work from home, and parents of kids are trying to home-school.”
He said while he and the other residents of the complex of just over 20 apartments were “fully on-board with social housing” in their block, they felt it was “a bit of a stretch” to say the work was outside the restrictions set by the Government.
The council said it had raised the issue of protective equipment with the contractor. “The contractors are required to observe social distancing and all safety measures relating to Covid-19 prevention and are subject to inspection in relation to this,” it said.
“We have been informed that only one operative attended the site. This worker was wearing gloves. He was not wearing a mask. There is no requirement to wear masks, but he offered to wear one when approached by a resident.”
The council said the work on this apartment had been completed in recent days and would be available for a new tenant this week. “Some of the works involved a Kango hammer and would have been noisy and disruptive, and the council apologises for this unavoidable disruption.”
Works were continuing on the 80 other properties throughout the city, the council said, but all of these were houses. “We have suspended void works in our large apartment complexes in the city in order to reduce any intrusion for our residents and to assist in social distancing.”