In this article we outline the effect of the Dutch government’s COVID-19 measures on construction projects in the Netherlands, as well as the possibilities for relief under Dutch law and the UAC 2012, the general conditions most commonly used in Dutch construction projects.
What measures has the Dutch government taken?
On the 15th of May, the government closed several public places such as museums, concert halls, theatres, bars, restaurants, coffee shops and sports clubs. Now bars and restaurants and sports clubs are slowly opening again. Everyone has to keep a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other. Also in bars and restaurants. Another is a ban on gatherings, including those of less than 100 people. People are alowed to come together in groups of 10, but they need to keep distance.
It seems, however, that construction companies cannot be fined pursuant to that order, since a construction site is not a public area. A survey conducted by the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) among its members revealed that it is difficult to always observe the above distance rule on construction sites, due to a lack of supervision and the fact that it is often necessary for workers to work within less than 1.5 metres of each other. For this reason among others, several employer and employee organisations called for customised measures for the construction industry. Accordingly, the government and the construction sector adopted “Samen veilig doorwerken“, a protocol on safe working practices on construction sites under the present circumstances.