By Andrea Romano
Updated February 27, 2020
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After the tragic fire that severely damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France in April 2019, many people have assumed that visiting the historic church was probably off the table for the next few years.

This was especially apparent considering complications like the stifling heatwave and the difficulty of the repairs. However, it seems that Paris’ deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire is crossing his fingers that the plaza around the cathedral could be open to the public within the first half of this year, The New York Times reported.

In order to open up the plaza to the public, there are quite a few steps that need to be done to ensure the safety of visitors. Foremost, traces of lead and rubble must be cleaned up from the area, according to The New York Times. When the fire occurred, about 440 metric tonnes (about 394 Imperial tons) melted off the cathedral’s 850-year-old roof, Lonely Planet reported. This caused a number of concerns regarding air quality and toxicity. According to The New York Times, lead levels on the site were 1,300 times higher than French safety guidelines. For the most part, the lead has been cleaned but some traces still remain.

If the clean-up is done properly, a famous crypt that is located under the plaza will also be able to open as early as March, according to another Paris deputy mayor, Karen Taïeb. Taïeb said in a statement that the city’s government has been doing regular checks for the lead.

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Camille Courbis of Musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris and Crypte Archéologique told Lonely Planet that if all goes well, a new exhibition (a tribute to Notre Dame) will open alongside the opening of the crypt. “For now we do not know the precise date. The crypt will reopen as soon as the clean-up operation will be finished and the site safe,” Courbis told Lonely Planet.

President Emmanuel Macron has stated that Notre Dame Cathedral would be open again within five years, however, complete restoration may take even longer.

As for the plaza and crypt, the city’s government hopes to have the area reopened sometime in Spring 2020.