By Marta Garde
Paris, Apr 27 (efe-epa).- On hold since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, repair work at Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral slowly got underway again Monday amid strict health and safety protocol.
The resumption of activity at the cathedral at the heart of the French capital, which was severely damaged by a fire on 15 April 2019, is barely noticeable at first glance apart from the odd glimpse of a worker wearing overalls and a mask.
Christophe is one of the employees working on the site. Aged 28 and originally from Metz in the east of France, it is also his first day of work at the cathedral.
The blaze severely destroyed the cathedral’s spire and caused extensive damage to the roof, melting its lead plates and spreading contaminating particles one the site.
Now, the personal protective equipment repair workers have been using to avoid breathing in the dangerous particles doubles up to help contain the possible spread of Covid-19.
The first batch of workers back on site were in charge of adapting the changing rooms, office spaces and showers to make it possible to work while observing social-distancing protocol, which has been mandated by the French government.
As well as overall and masks, the public organization in charge of the restoration efforts is planning to offer hand gel provided by luxury consortium LVMH, cut-price hotel accommodation for those that need it and food provided by heritage group Fondation du Patrimoine and restorers Sodexo.
Christophe feels that his personal protective equipment is enough to keep him safe.
“We’ll see how I am when all this is over,” he told Efe at the end of his shift.
Chief architect Philippe Villeneuve, who is in charge of stabilization and recovery work at the Notre Dame, met officials Monday morning to discuss the safety measures in place for the scheduled return of the rest of the builder, scheduled on 4 May.
“We can’t let our colleagues come back to work without secure conditions,” he told Europe 1 news outlet.
The installation of new changing rooms and showers had already been underway before progress was paralyzed on 16 March, when President Emmanuel Macron placed the country in lockdown.