Workers have downed tools on the £67 million extension of Devonshire Dock Hall at the BAE Systems Submarine site in Barrow.

The company confirmed that Morgan Sindall contractors working on the project to extend the hall (DDH) in readiness for the construction of the Dreadnought class nuclear submarine had been stopped as part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Concerns had been raised on social media earlier in the week about the number of Morgan Sindall contractors working on the site.

Photos had been shared on social media this week showing large groups of construction workers in close proximity, although in-Cumbria sister title The Mail had not been able to confirm when or where the pictures had been taken.

Thousands of employees and contractors have been moved off the site in the past week in response to the Government’s guidelines on social distancing in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

A total of 1,800 “essential personnel” are set to return to the site by Monday following a review of working conditions to ensure projects of national importance – namely Astute Boat 4 – progress while adhering to those guidelines.

A spokesman for BAE Systems said: “With support from Morgan Sindall, we made a decision to temporarily suspend work on the project while an assessment is made into ways of working.”

The decision was hailed a “victory” by one contractor working for Morgan Sindall, who were unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

The contractor said: “We’re really pleased that common sense has prevailed.

“It’s something of a victory I suppose; and it’s reassuring to us to know that BAE has stepped in and both companies have taken steps to protect us.”

The contract to extend DDH was awarded to Morgan Sindall in 2016 and is a key element of the Government’s wider £300m investment in the Barrow site to help it deliver the successor Dreadnought submarines.

Work is already underway on the first in the class submarine called HMS Dreadnought at the state-of-the-art £100m Central Yard Facility constructed by Morgan Sindall.

The Astute class submarine is currently being constructed at DDH, where Dreadnought submarines will ultimately be integrated and tested.

Proposals were put forward last year to re-clad the iconic structure – originally constructed between 1982 and 1986 – to further extend its life.