Construction workers are on hand to ensure that strict social distancing measures can be followed in the 850-year-old building, which was engulfed in flames last April in a fire that shocked the world. Chief architect Philippe Villeneuve and a dozen urban planners also examined hygiene measures when they met in the cathedral’s temporary offices.
“We will do everything to keep this schedule respected,” said Jean-Louis Georgelin, a French general who led government efforts to restore Notre Dôme.
But he warned, “It means giving the cathedral back to the faithful. This does not mean that everything will be over. “
France has announced plans to start lifting strict foreclosure measures early next month, which will include reopening schools, although restaurants are expected to do so.
It is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic with more than 23,000 deaths. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is expected to explain to deputies on Tuesday afternoon how the government plans to relax quarantine measures.
The plan for a gradual relaxation of the current restrictions from May 11 is adjusted until the last minute. It will focus on six areas, including public transportation and schools, according to officials.
French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild Notre-Dame within an ambitious five-year timeframe, although progress has been hampered by the toxic lead released by the fire and the site’s closure in March amid the epidemic of virus.
He wants it open in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics
Patrick Chauvet, the rector of the cathedral, insisted that the project was on track to meet Mr. Macron’s deadline. He said the workers’ showers would be changed and the changing rooms changed to reduce the risk of infection.
“It is true that we lost a month and a half,” Chauvet told Reuters.
“This does not mean that all the restoration will be finished, but it does mean that we can enter the cathedral again. “
He said the first task, once work was fully underway, was to remove the entanglement of metal scaffolding that melted into the fire and embedded in the cathedral structure.
“Once withdrawn, we can say that the security phase will be over,” added Mr. Chauvet.
Earlier this month, a unique commemoration was held to mark a year since the Notre Dame fire.
“If the restoration of Notre-Dame is important to all of us, it is also clearly because it is a symbol of the resilience of our people, of their capacity to overcome hardships and to recover,” said Mr. Macron at the time.
Updated: April 28, 2020 3:03 p.m.