UPDATED: Washington State closes most construction statewide, transportation still considered "essential"

March 26, 2020

The state's governor released a construction-specific addendum to his statewide stay-at-home order


The Seattle DOT, while considered to be performing essential work, and thus immune to the governor's construction ruling, is nonetheless halting work on state roads for the next two weeks, and crafting a plan to "determine what policy will be moving forward." This decision reflects both an abundance of caution and an inability to get enough construction workers who are willing to be out on jobsites. 

Governor Inslee at a news conference on March 26 stated, "Construction needs to pause, and that's difficult. There will be some gray areas here, but I ask people to keep in mind our grandparents and our grandkids when we make decisions in those gray areas."

Sound Transit is also looking at halting half of its present project load.


Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee made a construction-specific clarification to his statewide stay-at-home order, reversing his original mandate that appeared to exempt construction.

The governor has now mandated that nearly all construction activity is nonessential and should halt statewide. Similar restrictions have been in place in Pennsylvania and the city of Boston, which recently prolonged its strictures indefinitely.

Inslee’s memo provides clear guidance on which types of projects and workers are affected, something that has been lacking in other jurisdictions' stay-at-home orders. Specifically listed are job types including “superintendents, 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.” 

The memo stipulates that the only exceptions to the rule, which took effect March 25, are for construction that is related to essential activities such as healthcare, transportation, energy, defense and critical manufacturing; construction “to further a public purpose related to a public entity,” including publicly financed low-income housing and emergency repairs.

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