The Department of Public Health and Social Services in Guam ordered last Friday the suspension of all construction projects on the island after seeing a number of positive cases identified in a worker’s barracks. The suspension will be in place until further notice.
Before this, most construction projects in both Guam and the CNMI had been minimally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with most construction projects continuing apace.
The Joint Information Center in Guam reported that construction companies in Guam were given advance notice before the issuance of the notice of suspension. The group of workers of a Guam construction company tested positive for COVID-19 last Sept. 9.
Additionally, COVID-19 cases were also seen among employees of two other construction companies that were operating in Guam. According to the JIC, Guam’s construction relies heavily on foreign labor and a great amount of the construction workforce are being housed in a mass setting, which have worksites throughout the island, including military installations, government of Guam projects, and private sector projects.
The JIC statement quotes DPHSS as saying that its immediate action was necessary to prevent further spread, which posed a “significant danger” to the public health of construction workers, industries associated with projects, and the larger community.
“DPHSS will undertake a review of all operational plans and conduct site visits of congregate settings to ensure applicable DPHSS Guidance is complied with and to safeguard the health of the construction sector’s workforce,” said JIC.
Additionally, DPHSS also recognizes that construction is critical for the island’s infrastructure and the suspension of construction activities are to be limited in time. DPHSS informed businesses in Guam who are affected that in order for construction activities to resume quickly, they have to cooperate with DPHSS.
“Businesses that refuse to comply with this directive may be subject to fines and/or the termination of business licenses, as well as any other penalties as may be available under Guam law,” said JIC. DPHSS enforced its directive with the assistance of the Guam Police Department, Guam Fire Department, and other regulatory agencies of the government of Guam, including the Department of Labor.