Construction on Edinburgh’s trams project will stop this week "to protect the safety of workers and residents during the current coronavirus outbreak".

Edinburgh City Council’s decision to instruct contractors Morrison Utility Services (MUS) and Sacyr Farrans Neopul (SFN) to cease site works follows advice from Scotland’s First Minister that all construction sites should close, unless the project being delivered is essential.

SFN and MUS will make sites on Leith Walk, Constitution Street, Lindsay Road and Ocean Drive safe by the end of the week before shutting down. The time is required given the complex nature of the project.

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Following on from shutdown there will be contractors on site as necessary for safety and security checks, in line with current social distancing guidance, the council said.

Work will continue off-site, again operating to strict social distancing guidelines, including design, planning and scheduling, as well as drawing up a remobilisation strategy for returning to the site once restrictions are lifted.

The Trams to Newhaven project team will also be closely liaising with MUS and SFN to look at ways of mitigating the impact of work stopping on the wider project.

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Adam McVey, council leader, said: "The health and wellbeing of workers delivering key infrastructure schemes like Trams to Newhaven – and those who live nearby – is of utmost importance to us, which is why we've been working with contractors, to halt work since the Scottish Government guidance was issued.

“Of course, this will impact on the wider project, but nothing is more important than the public’s safety. We will, of course, be working with contractors to mitigate the impact of these necessary actions and carefully planning our strategy for returning to the site once restrictions are lifted.”

Alejandro Mendoza, SFN project director, said: “We fully back the decision and guidance from the Government this week to shut down construction sites during this period of great uncertainty.

"These are extremely challenging and concerning times for all and we will do what is necessary for our staff and the public to help stop the spread of this virus.”

Logistics hubs on Mitchell Street will also close. The project’s contact centre will remain operational for any queries.

Other major infrastructure schemes being carried out by the council across Edinburgh are currently under urgent review in light of UK and Scottish Government guidance, with updates to follow.