The Latest: : Merchants near Notre Dame struggle after fire
Wednesday, 17 April 2019 PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the fire that tore through the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (all times local):
Paris merchants whose livelihoods depend on Notre Dame tourism are worried about the cathedral's stability and their own futures.
The island that houses the cathedral has been closed to the public since Monday's fire, and its residents evacuated. It's literally the nucleus of Paris — all distances in France are measured from the esplanade in front of Notre Dame.
It's also one of the most-visited spots in France, whose economy depends heavily on tourism.
Patrick Lejeune, president of the Notre Dame neighborhood merchants association, told The Associated Press that the group's 150 employees fear for the future.
"No one is talking about us," he said. Bustling streets are now "totally closed. I don't have access to my office."
He also expressed concern for the stability of the cathedral and its central rose window. Its spire collapsed and roof was destroyed in the fire.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says the government will take a series of measures to secure the financing and accelerate the renovation work of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Speaking after a special Cabinet meeting dedicated to Notre Dame, Philippe said the government will present a bill next week to ensure "transparency and good management" during the reconstruction.
He said one measure will aim at ensuring that all donations actually end up going to Notre Dame.
The bill will also allow French ordinary citizens to get special tax cuts if they make a donation.
Another measure will enable the French state to adapt legal procedures in order to ease the reconstruction.