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Saturday, Sep 26, 2020
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Brazilian island reopens to welcome tourists, but only if they’ve had Covid-19

A Brazilian island is opening for tourists after a five-month shutdown, but there’s a catch: all visitors to Fernando de Noronha must have contracted and recovered from Covid-19.
Fernando de Noronha, a tropical island 354km off Brazil’s northeastern coast, is reopening to visitors, but with a catch: they need to have had Covid-19.

The island, part of a pristine volcanic archipelago that limits tourism to several hundred arrivals per day, closed five months ago to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Officials said in a post on the island’s Instagram account that it would begin reopening in phases from September 1, with strict health controls to “guarantee everyone’s protection”.

“In this first phase, only tourists who have already had Covid-19 will be allowed to disembark,” it said.

Visitors will be required to present a positive test result for the virus that is at least 20 days old along with their payment of Fernando de Noronha’s environmental conservation tax.

“We are reopening responsibly, with caution and without hurry,” the archipelago’s administrator, Guilherme Rocha told a news conference. “Hurry is the enemy of life … We can’t do everything at once.”

Known for its wild, undeveloped beaches, breathtaking scenery and national marine reserve, Unesco World Heritage-listed Fernando de Noronha is home to slightly more than 3,000 permanent residents, but its boutique hotels are typically packed with jet-setters from Brazil and abroad.

The island closed to visitors on March 21, and residents who were on the mainland were barred from returning between April and mid-June. Those arriving on the island are now issued an ID bracelet they must wear until public health officials give them the all-clear, either after completing quarantine or obtaining two negative test results for the virus.

After the United States, Brazil has the second-highest number of virus infections and deaths in the world: nearly 3.8 million and 120,000, respectively. But Fernando de Noronha is a “Covid-19 success story,” said Rocha.

“We haven’t had communal transmission on the island for a long time. And we want it to stay that way,” he said.
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