While various parts of city life have closed, construction workers are still showing up to work sites during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Buildings has issued notifications to contractors and construction companies to "take all necessary precautions" on sites to "protect workers and the public" with regard to the Department of Health recommendations to curb the virus's spread.

Though Boston has shut down construction, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he is looking towards San Francisco's policies for guidance, where a "shelter-in-place" mandate has been placed on its residents with specific exemptions.

"[E]ven they exempt construction for the reason that it is an outdoor activity, which is very different," de Blasio said on WCBS Wednesday evening. "We all know there's much less likelihood of contracting this disease if you're outdoors than if you're indoors just in terms of the way it transmits and what the open air and the breeze and all does to, you know, diffuse anything...like a sneeze, for example."

Workers are often spread out, the mayor said. "And we also need what they're creating in so many cases," he added.

San Francisco has exempted construction involving public works, housing (especially affordable or for those experiencing homelessness), airports, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems, among others. De Blasio has pointed to the San Francisco model as a possibility, though has acknowledged it is a state decision.

City Councilmembers Carlos Menchaca and Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams have demanded a moratorium on non-essential construction in New York City. Workers have been reportedly working even after being sick, and there is a growing a shortage of medical supplies such masks, which are used by construction workers as well. The Trump administration has asked the construction industry to donate face masks to hospitals during the crisis.

For the Workers' Justice Project, how workers will provide for their families and pay rent if work sites close is of critical concern—especially for undocumented immigrants and immigrants in general who face difficulties and chilling effects accessing government programs like unemployment benefits.

"There is a lot of uncertainty around construction workers right now," Ligia Guallpa, the executive director of the project, a Brooklyn-based worker center, told Gothamist. "We know that in times of crisis like these, the last people that get to receive support or are the most affected workers ... are the low-wage, immigrant Latino workers and communities as a whole."

Advocates say immigrants are bracing for "severe" economic damage, and one estimate found 500,000 New Yorkers could be out of work. Guallpa said some members of the Workers' Justice Project have said large Manhattan work sites have already started to shut down.

"Our big demand to the city is that we need to make sure that there is an emergency preparedness plan that includes low-wage immigrant workers," Guallpa said. "The city needs to address the concerns of that particular community, that are less likely to access unemployment benefits, are less likely to access any government incentives."

Buildings department spokesperson Andrew Rudansky said in a statement, "We will continue to closely monitor the situation, and will issue further guidance to the industry as needed."

Inspectors are continuing oversight work. Information about securing sites for prolonged periods during shutdowns for cleaning or otherwise were also issued to industry professionals, according to Rudansky.