Coronavirus and the effect on property maintenance industry.

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COVID-19 has turned into a global crisis, evolving at high speed and scale. No industry is immune to this crisis and construction, maintenance and repair sector is no exception. Ireland entered a nationwide lockdown on Wednesday 21 October, with the lockdown to remain in place for six weeks. Under the new restrictions, people are advised to stay at home, with only essential workers attending work in person and only essential retail and services to remain open.

As the effects of the virus is felt around the world, governments and businesses’ primary focus is the safety of their people and staffs. There is no doubt that the impact on the construction, repairs and maintenance companies will be a lasting one. As a result, the crisis has led to the need for industry members to address both short-term and long-term business challenges, as well as formulating project-by-project solutions in the face of a new global and national environment. While it is always advisable to document events that occur over the course of any project, the COVID-19 outbreak has placed an even greater emphasis on the need to maintain contemporaneous and thorough records. While the longer-term impact won’t be known for a while yet, tendering conditions will become more difficult in the short to medium term.

Covid-19 will have a great impact on the property and maintenance market.

  • Until a vaccine is invented, uncertainty will continue as a variable within the industry;
  • The virus impacts strongly on people with underlying health conditions;
  • The pandemic will strongly impact on individual businesses and business sectors, which had exhibited underlying weakness prior to early 2020;
  • The virus thrives in crowds. All building uses that create a ‘crowd’ environment will be impacted severely by the obligation for social distancing.

The immediate future priority for most households will be to establish the new normal of school, return to work, and reduced social outlets. The priority for most businesses will be the re-opening of operations and the complexity of social distancing, remote working, and re-establishing customer contact.

Substantially, Covid-19 has been managed by community responses to mitigate risks. Similarly, the commercial impacts of Covid-19 will impact most households. If commercial recovery is managed as a community-based recovery, it will greatly assist market confidence and consumer confidence. Property price movement is the real measure of the virus impact. We are likely to experience a quiet or hesitant market until 2021, with few transactions — purchasers will delay engagement, purchasers will seek, or expect, a price reduction. Sellers will delay, or will be reluctant to change their price. Builders will not change their prices, certainly in the short term.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) is collaborating with Government in leading the national response to Covid-19. The initial phase is containment with the objective being to minimize the spread of Covid-19. This is the critical stage for employers and employees. Decisive, proactive containment measures taken now can reduce negative impacts in the future. Ensuring those that are affected self-isolate is essential to limit and slow down the spread of the virus, to keep the number of affected people to a minimum; and reduce peak pressure on the health service and the impact on the economy.

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