The scenic archipelago of 21 volcanic islands off the coast of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha, is finally reopening to tourists, five months after its borders were closed to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the local administration has announced a strange clause: only people who have previously tested positive for Covid-19 will be allowed to visit the island.
The region, known for its pristine beaches, is set to reopen next week, authorities in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco, which includes Fernando de Noronha, said in a press conference, CNN reported.
“To land on the archipelago, the tourist will need to present the result of a positive PCR test that is at least 20 days old, or the result of the serological test showing the presence of antibodies against Covid,” the state’s administrator, Guilherme Rocha said. He did not, however, explain the reasoning behind the local government’s decision.
In a post shared on the archipelago’s official Instagram page, authorities announced that the islands will be reopened in phases starting from September 1, AFP reported. Strict health and safety guidelines will be observed while the island gradually reopens, in order to “guarantee everyone’s protection,” officials said.
“In this first phase, only tourists who have already had Covid-19 will be allowed to disembark,” the statement shared on the photo-sharing platform read. Once they arrive in the island, all residents will be required to pay an environmental conservation tax and present their Covid-19 test results.
“We are reopening responsibly, with caution and without hurry,” Rocha explained at the press conference, AFP reported. “Hurry is the enemy of life… We can’t do everything at once.”
The island was first closed in March, when the pandemic began to tighten its grip worldwide. It was partially reopened on July 31, for people who had homes in the island as well as local researchers, CNN reported.
Fernando de Noronha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is otherwise a popular tourist getaway in Brazil. Last year, the island was visited by over 106,000 people — a majority of whom were from Brazil itself.
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