Notre-Dame renovation teams play catch-up as lockdown eases
PARIS (Reuters) - French renovation teams aim complete work on Notre-Dame Cathedral in time for the fifth anniversary of its 2019 fire despite the COVID-19 lockdown, the project leader said on Sunday, as admirers were allowed back into the adjoining square.
Casual passersby and faithful alike flocked to the Parvis de Notre-Dame as the square reopened with the partial lifting of lockdown restrictions.
The coronavirus pandemic "has unquestionably delayed the work", said Jean-Louis Georgelin, the army general put in charge of the mammoth rebuilding programme.
But the goal remains to reopen for religious services in April 2024, Georgelin said, standing in front of the closed-off cathedral grounds. "There's no reason to believe it cannot be met - we'll have to find a way to catch up."
The fire that engulfed the 850-year-old building on April 15 last year destroyed its spire and much of the roof. While the final renovation cost remains uncertain, an appeal for funds has raised close to 1 billion euros (£899 million).
Renovation workers returned to the site six weeks after the pandemic halted operations. But health rules that remain in place are still limiting the pace of work, officials say.
(Reporting by Yimng Woo; Writing by Laurence Frost: Editing by Giles Elgood)