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Brazil paradise island reopens, with a Covid catch

Fernando de Noronha, a tropical island off Brazil known as one of the world’s most coveted travel destinations, said Thursday it is reopening to visitors, with a catch: they have 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 new 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 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, 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 from April to 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.

Brazil has the second-highest number of virus infections and deaths in the world, after the United States: 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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