by Emily Langner
On March 11, the World Health Organization officially characterized the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. The coronavirus was identified in all 50 U.S. states by mid-March, sending a number of cities all over the country into mandatory lockdowns.
After nationwide shortages of essential Personal Protection Equipment were reported, members of the New England architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) community immediately stepped up, issuing calls to donate much-needed supplies, including N95 masks, gloves, and gowns, to hospitals and medical facilities throughout the region.
On March 16, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was the first mayor of a major city to order a construction shut-down in response to the crisis, with exceptions for work that is essential to the safety and well-being of the city’s residents. Cambridge soon followed. Within days, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued orders requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public. Non-essential employees were urged to remain home and work remotely, and AEC organizations throughout New England cancelled all upcoming industry events.
Both Massachusetts and Connecticut deemed construction an Essential Business or Service, while Mayor Walsh doubled down on his order to halt construction in the city of Boston. At press time for HP’s April issue, other New England states waited for official announcements with clarification on whether construction would be considered an Essential Business amid the crisis.
In the last several weeks, AEC organizations and businesses have modified plans, quickly changing in-person events to webinars or virtual events, and providing resources for industry professionals to stay informed, educated, and connected. High-Profile asked AEC member organizations to tell our readers how they are continuing to serve their members and keep people connected during this uncertain time. Read their statements here:
Emily Langner is the staff writer and associate editor at High-Profile Monthly.