Facebook has essentially paused construction on its Huntsville, Alabama, data center over health and safety concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move comes after work ceased on its Clonee, Ireland, facility after contractors displayed flu-like symptoms.

Facebook Huntsville, Alabama
– Facebook

Playing it safe

"To help protect the health and safety of construction crews during the Covid-19 outbreak, we are significantly reducing construction activities at our site," Facebook said in a post on its website.

"We look forward to welcoming everyone back on site as soon as it’s safe to do so. Hope everyone can stay safe and healthy."

Construction projects in the US are still ongoing, Rob Plowden, head of legal firm Eversheds Sutherland US Data Center practice, told DCD.

“My clients that are operators are concerned about ongoing construction projects, they're concerned about how they are going to continue operations when we think we're going to see supplier shortages and material shortages.”

In the absence of a government order to shut down construction projects, Eversheds partner Mark Chester said that construction contracts are “in some difficulty from a force majeure perspective, because that's a decision that they have unilaterally made rather than being required to make by local government and so that wouldn't necessarily be a delay event that is permissible under the contract.”

A force majeure clause in a construction contract will allow the contractor to suspend work when circumstances arise which are beyond their control.