Notre Dame's construction site is to reopen Monday (27 April) to allow a management team to start planning the return of employees in early May, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro. The move begins ahead of France's gradual easing of lockdown, amid the coronavirus pandemic, from 11 May.
Barriers surrounding the cathedral will be removed to allow around ten people, including the lead architect Philippe Villeneuve and company representatives involved in the restoration, to enter its base camp.
The team will begin organising the return of some 50 employees from 4 May onwards. Around 170 people are working on the restoration of the 12th-century cathedral, which was ravaged by a fire on 15-16 April last year. The aim is to have the cranes removed on 4 May and recommence dismantling the vast scaffolding; an operation that was halted on 14 March due to Covid-19.
The public committee for Notre-Dame's restoration, headed by army general Jean-Louis Georgelin, had to find ways to respect social distancing, protect workers and overcome logistical issues before restarting activity.
Visors and gloves have been purchased for all the artisan builders to improve their transport conditions and accommodation in Paris has been found for the scaffolders and steeplejacks who are based elsewhere. There are three companies involved in the restoration: a masonry and stone-cutting company in Paris, and two responsible for scaffolding, carpentry and roofing in the suburbs or outside the Paris region.
An occupational health scheme has been implemented and configurations are being made to create more space between the tables, changing rooms and showers, which were too confined. Security measures against lead-contamination, such as wearing overalls, masks and gloves, were already in place.