Construction still going in Philadelphia amid Governor Tom Wolf's requirement to shut down

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development have received more than 16,000 waiver requests as business owners battle to re-open amid Governor Tom Wolf's directive to close all non-essential businesses.

One industry hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic is construction.

"It's been devastating to our membership and the families," said Joe Ashdale, Business Manager of District Council 21, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. "Right now we're running 40 to 50 percent unemployment of our members."

Action News has received a lot of viewer calls and emails about construction sites still operating around the Philadelphia area.

Casey Smith, Communications Director for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said they grant waivers to construction projects if it is considered an emergency repair.

"The examples I've been giving: if the roof is caving in, if the floors are caving in, if an establishment or a property is unsafe and something needs addressed right now, that would be considered an emergency," said Smith.

Action News asked about continued construction on LIVE! Casino and Hotel Philadelphia and how that is considered an emergency repair. Smith said the department doesn't comment on specific situations but encourages all businesses to request a waiver.

"There's a team of about 50 individuals who are working day and night to hack through these waiver requests that we're receiving," said Smith.

Gilbane Building Company is building the LIVE! Casino and Hotel site. A spokesperson said the company received a waiver because it is considered an important part of economic development for the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania.

"Gilbane is following the stringent safety protocols that we have to keep everyone on the site safe and to keep it operating normally," said Wes Cotter, Director of Corporate Communications for Gilbane Building Company.
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