SPOKANE, Wash. - In a major clarification to the statewide "Stay at home" order, Gov. Jay Inslee's office announced that workers on most commercial and residential construction sites should stay home to combat the spread of COVID-19.
 
The announcement is a big blow to new constriction for both residential and commercial properties in Spokane County. Drills, table saws and hammers all put away in a toolbox for now, and residential and commercial build sites are silent.
 
Workers will be allowed to secure their job sites to make sure all their valuable tools are removed and safe from opportunistic thieves. 
 
Gov. Inslee is the second governor to issue a statewide "Stay at Home" order that does not designate housing construction as "essential."
 
Mark McVay, president of Coeur d'Alene window company McVay Brothers Siding & Windows, said they've been following the governor's orders when it comes to social distancing.
 
"Sometimes, when you're at a large commercial project, there are a lot of people moving around. But a typical new home site doesn't have a lot of individuals at it. It's probably I think one of the safer areas where you can work in that kind of environment," McVay said. "You know, at some point, the state is going to be running low on revenue, and we're still generating revenue and things like that."
 
McVay Brothers has over 200 employees, and McVay said the 180 degree flop from the governor came to him as a surprise. The business should be able to weather the COVID-19 crisis, but will have to reassess after April 8.
 
According to Gov. Inslee's "Stay at Home" order the only exception for residential construction is for emergency repairs. The order could also be extended.
 
"Lastly, I think we're kind of surprised that things like cannabis retailers are essential and we're not which is," McVay said. "We've always felt that construction is the backbone of the northwest and whole country."
 
Gov. Inslee's guidance on construction states:

“In general, commercial and residential construction is not authorized under the proclamation because construction is not considered to be an essential activity.

"However, an exception to the order allows for construction in the following limited circumstances: 

a) Construction related to essential activities as described in the order;

b) To further a public purpose related to a public entity or governmental function or facility, including but not limited to publicly financed low-income housing; or

c) To prevent spoliation and avoid damage or unsafe conditions, and address emergency repairs at both non-essential businesses and residential structures.

"To that end, it is permissible for workers who are building, construction superintendents, tradesmen, or tradeswomen, or other trades including, but not limited to, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, laborers, sheet metal, iron workers, masonry, pipe trades, fabricators, heavy equipment and crane operators, finishers, exterminators, pesticide applicators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC technicians, painting, moving and relocation services, forestry and arborists, and other service providers to provide services consistent with this guidance.

"All construction activity must meet social distancing and appropriate health and worker protection measures before proceeding.”