The restoration of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral will resume gradually on Monday after the coronavirus locking forced the repair of the Gothic monument almost destroyed by fire a year ago to stop, said the director general of the project.
Reconstruction was halted in mid-March, France having imposed strict residence orders and business closings to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
“I have made sure that the necessary measures and procedures to guarantee the distance and the social protection measures will be in place” for the workers on the site, said General Jean-Louis Georgelin in a press release.
The 13th-century monument was the victim of a devastating fire on April 15, 2019, which caused its roof and bell tower to collapse, and despite intense efforts at cleaning and stabilization, the fragile structure remains in danger.
Before the reconstruction was suspended, the 60 to 70 workers at the site were preparing to remove more toxic lead particles deposited during the melting of the roof, which contaminated parts of the French capital.
Once work resumes normally in May, they will also attempt to gently remove a tangled web of metal scaffolding tubes that have melted together in hell, which erupted during renovations to the roof.
Until they do so, they cannot install a more durable temporary roof to protect the church’s priceless works of art from the rain.
Last week, the church rang a single bell from its south tower to mark the anniversary of the fire, coinciding with nightly applause from windows across the country for health workers on the front lines of the COVID crisis- 19.
President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his goal of restoring Notre-Dame to its former glory within five years, describing this effort as “a symbol of the resilience of our people”.
© 2020 AFP