Construction and restoration workers are working to restore the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris from fire damage that was predicted to reopen in 2024. Though slated for 2024, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has slowed construction down and will also result in altering the reopening date.
On the evening of April 15, 2019, a suspected electrical short circuit ignited a tiny spark that started a fire in the attic level of the cathedral. The fire damaged the roofing structure and 850-year-old oak timber was engulfed with flames.
The cathedral suffered many damages including the toppling of the 300-foot wooden spire, craving the nave below and taking a majority of the roofing structure down with it that spread flames into the interior. With the work of hundreds of firefighters, it took approximately eight hours to extinguish.
Since March 17, over 67 million French citizens are under a national lockdown in response to COVID-19 and the reconstruction project is brought to a halt. The team of over 100 architects, archeologists, engineers, and scientists are no longer working on the project and no one is sure when h their work will resume.
Nearly one year after Notre Dame was ravaged by flames, Paris' archbishop held a ceremony in the iconic cathedral for Good Friday amid coronavirus-related restrictions.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 10, 2020
Paris scheduled the reopening of the historic cathedral in 2024 to celebrate hosting the Summer 2024 Olympics. French President, Emmanuel Macron, is overseeing the restoration of Notre Dame, committing billions of euros in donations and cooperating with the U.S. to ensure they’ll finish by 2024.
The timeframe has also met many delays in the project due to high winds, investigations on lead pollution, and now COVID-19. Before closing in response to COVID-19, the church would hold services in other areas of the church that weren’t affected by the fire.
The director of the Notre Dame reconstruction project, Stephanie Tissier, says they’re still planning on reopening in 2024 but will only allow the public into restored areas while they work on the other more private sections. The team may not know when they will be back on site for construction, but the team is meeting frequently to ensure they’re ready once Paris is out of lockdown.