Unscheduled worldwide closures of construction sites due to Covid-19 has shaken up the whole industry. As sites slowly start to come back to life across the globe we look at what lessons we can learn from China. 

The guidance below is based on our experience of managing the reopening of 14 sites in total ranging from 25,000 to 300,000 sqm of construction sites across China. 


In China, the General Contractor (GC) is responsible for obtaining the construction permit and was the lead party responsible for virus management and site re-opening. Our main task was representing our clients to ensure site reopening was conducted in accordance with government regulations and guarantee the safety of their own staff.

Most GC personnel come from all over China and live in dorms on or close to the site so the use of ‘health codes’ via mobile phone apps has been a key feature of tracking high-risk cases and allowing gradual loosening of restrictions in China. The apps track movement and generate an individual QR code of Green, Yellow or Red. Green allows free movement; yellow requires 14 days home quarantine; Red requires 14 days government-supervised quarantine. 

Until very recently everyone travelling within China had to complete 14 days quarantine when moving from one city/province to another. Affected site personnel had to spend 2 weeks in their apartments near the site before being able to start work. 

Preparing for site reopening:

  • Ensure GC submitted detailed records for all site personnel showing if virus symptom-free to local government, 14 days quarantine data (including temperature twice per day) and travel history.
  • Take stock of required face masks, non-contact thermometers, sanitiser and other PPE. The number of each will depend on the number of workers and site access points.
  • Consider limiting the number of workers to maintain a level of social distancing and allow for the ramp-up of operations.
  • Check that offices and dorms are all sanitised.
  • Ensure posters are set up in all access points, dorms, washrooms, canteens and other high traffic areas. Also, check if each of these areas has hand cleaners provided.
  • Make sure all site personnel received virus training prior to being allowed to access the site.
  • Look into a detailed virus management plan prepared and submitted to local government for approval – covering all usual aspects – also locations of nearest designated fever clinics/hospitals and protocol for handling and reporting anyone showing virus symptoms.

Accessing site:

  • Ensure all site access points are manned at all times, preferably with facial recognition cameras or finger-print ID/access.
  • Check everyone shows their Green QR code and access pass at entrance, has their temperature taken and confirmed symptom-free. Decide whether it will be done by hand or have infrared detection built into facial recognition cameras.
  • Consider having mats soaked in sanitiser to minimise transfer on footwear.
  • Advise your staff to avoid public transport where possible. Look into having dedicated company transport. If this is not possible, then make sure social distancing is maintained and everyone uses masks on site.


  • Look into initially having everyone wear face masks and maintain 2m distancing.
  • Once site back and working and no cases identified for 14 days, you could consider relaxing rules on face masks and distance. 
  • Consider asking personnel to report temperature twice daily and confirm that they are symptom-free for the first 21 days back on site.
  • Ensure there is good fresh air ventilation in offices and meeting rooms.
  • Make sure public areas are cleaned regularly with disinfectant including door handles and stair handrails.
  • Minimise large gatherings and consider doing meetings via phone or video
Anthony Greenwood

Anthony Greenwood