Among the work stoppages that have been instituted in efforts to mitigate spread of the coronavirus, construction has largely gone undisturbed.

But late last week, two states became the first to call a stop to construction of all kinds.

Early last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf enacted a prohibition against operating businesses not deemed “life sustaining.” Construction was not included in the list of life-sustaining industries. On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo remove construction from the list of essential businesses, sidelining the sector in that state as well.

In Pennsylvania, industry associations such as the Pennsylvania Builders Association are lobbying to permit construction and they have gained an ally: Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania’s Speaker of the House and a Republican, plans to introduce legislation this week that would permit all residential and public construction.

In a letter seeking co-sponsors to the expected legislation, Turzai wrote: “Halting home building sites and commercial construction sites has resulted in homes and other structures sitting half-finished and, as a result, poses risks to public health and safety that must be immediately addressed. Leaving partially built homes and other construction sites exposed to the elements will compromise the integrity of building materials and add additional financial loss.”

He also wrote to the governor, advocating that contractors at least be able to complete projects that have already begun. In addition to the points above, he wrote, “Home builders have indicated to us that they are able to adhere to the social distancing practices and other mitigation measures defined by the Centers for Disease Control to protect workers and to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

In both states, the Northeast Spa and Pool Association is seeking clarification or waivers allowing pool and spa builders there to at least continue on current projects until they are at a stage where the site is deemed safe to homeowners.

“While we understand that starting new construction is off the table at this point... both states have made allowances for emergency work or work that involves the safety of [the public],” said NESPA Executive Director Dominick Mondi. “We believe strongly that pools that are at a certain point of construction, if left that way, are not safe for the homeowner and, if there are no barriers in place, not safe for the community.”

Temporary fencing is not sufficient, he added.

Considered the massive workload that these officials are currently managing, Mondi doesn’t expect a black-and-white directive as to which construction stages pool/spa builders can complete to make the site safe. “We’re looking for them to agree that it’s at some discretion of the contractor, and the contractors will have to be careful not to take advantage of that.”

Homeowners in the area also fear for the safety of their years. “I’ve heard of homeowners reaching out to contractors saying, ‘You have to come back -- my backyard is not safe,’” he said.

Regardless of the outcome, Mondi cautions, businesses are still being held to social distancing and the other requirements for performing business safely. “There are a lot of reasons why certain work should be able to continue for safety of the homeowner,” he said. “But even with these clarifications, it can’t be understated the importance of keeping your employees in mind, keeping your customers in mind, communicating well with anybody whom you’re interacting with.”