US Embassy Public Affairs Officer Daniel Durazo said yesterday that construction on the new US embassy on Shirley Street has been temporarily halted after “one or more” suspected COVID-19 cases were discovered among private contractors at the construction site.
“Of the individuals who have tested positive, none have yet received a COVID-19 vaccine,” Durazo told The Nassau Guardian in a statement.
“Out of an abundance of caution, work at the construction site has temporarily been suspended. However, the main embassy building on Queen Street remains unaffected. Our consular operations (including US citizen services, student visa appointments, and other emergency services) and other operations remain functional.”
He said health and safety remain the embassy’s top priority.
Durazo said it continues to work closely with the US State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “to protect the health and safety of our community”.
“Regardless of vaccination status, all employees continue to be instructed to follow the appropriate guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
“In addition, this week, on Thursday and Friday, July 29-30, the State Department will be vaccinating the workers of the construction site. The planning for this vaccination effort has been underway for two months, long before this outbreak was identified.
“This plan is part of a broader proactive Department of State effort to vaccinate workers at similar construction projects around the world.”
In October 2019, the embassy broke ground to begin construction on its new $318 million building, which is expected to be completed in 2023. The five-acre site for the new building is located at the junction of East Street and Shirley Street.
As of February, the building was one-third completed following delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and hurricanes.