Builders can now operate until 9pm Monday to Saturday in residential areas as part of the Government’s plans to restart the economy.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the move to stretch working times later into the evening was to allow for construction firms to stagger staffing.
Speaking at the Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, he said: “Where it’s appropriate, and with local consent, I’m allowing sites to apply to extend their working hours – again with immediate effect – to 9pm Monday to Saturday in residential areas and beyond that in non-residential areas, and setting out a very clear Government position that these applications should be approved by local councils, unless there are very compelling reasons not to do so.”
He added: “Varied start and finish times will make it much easier for sites to observe social distancing, take the pressure off public transport like the Tube in London and keep Britain building.”
The announcement comes two days after the Government laid out plans for employees who cannot work at home to return, including details for construction workers to encourage them to maintain social distancing.
Ministers also said at the time that all businesses must carry out an assessment before reopening and display a Covid Secure certificate to show workers will be safe.
Prior to the comments from Mr Jenrick, housebuilders Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon revealed construction had restarted and Crest Nicholson said builders would be back on sites from next Monday.
This relaxation of the rules by Government and the clear desire to reopen the housing market is very welcomePete Redfern, Taylor Wimpey
Taylor Wimpey added that its show homes and sales centres would start opening again in 10 days, after the Government said estate agents could reopen on Tuesday.
Chief executive Pete Redfern said: “This relaxation of the rules by Government and the clear desire to reopen the housing market is very welcome.
“However, we believe that it is our responsibility to apply these rules carefully and protect the health of our customers and employees.
“Our people are looking forward to being able to welcome customers to their sales offices and show homes, energised by new skills developed in serving customers digitally over the last seven weeks.”
Around £82 billion of transactions are thought to be on hold in the property market, according to analysts.
To help smaller traders, the Government also launched its self-employment grant scheme, alongside tax deferrals and local authority support.