LONDON, ONT. -- It's another hit for some businesses struggling under COVID-19 restrictions, as essential construction projects get underway around London.

Outside the LA Mood Comic and Games store on Richmond Street, Co-Owner Carol Vandenberg watches as the first of the machines starts digging into the pavement.

She said the last couple of months have already been difficult, with only curbside delivery and pickup allowed, “I had to lay off four employees.”

Now she’s concerned the construction will limit access to her store even more, “It’s already hurt business...Business was down last year, the construction...people just stopped coming downtown."

Richmond between York and King streets is one of three major essential construction projects underway as of Monday. It’s part of downtown sewer upgrades.

Also underway is construction on Hamilton Road at Trafalgar Street east of Egerton Street for infrastructure renewal.

Improvements have also begun to Dundas Street between English and Rectory streets.

These are among the first major projects underway as the province begins lifting some COVID-19 restrictions.

Manager of Downtown Projects, Jim Yanchula said crews are expected to exercise physical distancing.

“They’ve got to do everything we’re doing. Six feet apart, hand sanitizer, wearing protective gear when they need to, so that is not in position for them. Of course if there was an outbreak and it got to the crew that would be a different story."

Yanchula said pedestrians still have access to affected areas and businesses, and vehicle detours are in place.