Updated COVID-19 shelter-in-place guidelines set to shutdown many Contra Costa County construction projects

BAY POINT, Calif. (KGO) -- Many, if not most construction projects in Contra Costa County will come to a halt because of updated shelter-in-place guidelines about what constitutes an essential business amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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Those guidelines say a significant number of commercial and residential construction projects do not.

The workday on a 193 unit affordable apartment complex in Bay Point didn't start with the sounds of hammers and saws. Instead, there was a lecture, first in English, then Spanish about the importance of handwashing and keeping your distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We are trying to follow the guidelines as they are being adjusted and they're being adjusted daily," says Jeff Troutman with Brown Construction of Sacramento.

"If we do find someone with cough, common cold symptoms, anything like that we send them home," said Phil DeFazio of Brown Construction.

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Yesterday, the Contra Costa County Health Department ordered a halt to all non-essential residential and commercial construction projects. Supervisor John Gioia says that would include: "An office building, a store, a warehouse, construction projects that are not related to an essential business."

Exceptions allow certain projects to continue like: Healthcare facilities, affordable housing, public works projects, and shelters and temporary housing.

The new guidelines will mean more people joining construction painter Gina Vonkaeo in the unemployment line. She was laid off three weeks ago.

"I feel like I'm locked up, trapped inside because everybody around here is on lockdown," she said.

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