A city halts construction citywide, such as work being done in Kendall Square. (Photo: Marc Levy)

A citywide temporary emergency construction moratorium was put in place Wednesday, with permits and licenses ending Thursday morning and construction stopping Saturday until further notice, municipal officials said in a 6:15 p.m. email that was elaborated on by visiting a memo posted online.

The pause applies to public and private projects and will mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus and safeguard the health of construction workers and others, officials said. The decision was made “out of an abundance of caution,” City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said.

There is an exemption: Construction can go on for on one-, two- and three-family residential structures that already have their permits.

A group of business and developer leaders, contractors, public health officials, city staff and trade union officials would be brought together this week to advise on factors to consider in determining when the moratorium will be lifted, DePasquale said.

During the moratorium, the city will allow construction work – aside from the permitted homes – only with the explicit permission of the commissioner of Inspectional Services (for building-related work) or of Public Works (for street-utility related work), and only if the work is considered essential or is in response to an emergency, Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui said.

Housing Authority slowdown

The Cambridge Housing Authority is not only shutting down projects to modernize five developments but is closing its central office on Green Street and having employees work from home, an announcement on its website said. The main telephone number will connect to an answering service.

The authority will perform only emergency repairs to apartments and buildings. Developments housing elderly residents will get special cleaning, and signs will be posted educating tenants about social distancing and other recommendations to prevent infection, the authority said.

The construction projects that will shut down are Millers River and Burns Apartments for seniors and younger disabled residents; 78-80 Porter Road, a 26-unit apartment building near Porter Square; Roosevelt Towers for families; and St. Paul’s Residence, with 19 single-room-occupancy units and two family apartments in Harvard Square. In some cases, tenants have relocated to allow for construction, and a ban could force them to wait much longer to return.


Sue Reinert contributed to this report.