Machu Picchu in Peru reopens: what you need to know

BStarting November 1, international flights from 25 cities, including six U.S. cities, will be allowed to return to Peru, while the South American country and its former Inca citadel Machu Picchu will reopen after being closed for seven months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Flights to Lima will be permitted from Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Miami, Houston and Atlanta in the United States. They will also be authorized from hubs in Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and El Salvador. These are in addition to the routes that were allowed to restart on October 5, coming from Ecuador, Bolivia, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia and Chile.

Foreign travelers arriving in Peru can bypass a quarantine requirement if they have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test (PCR) obtained within 72 hours of arriving in the country.

From November 1, the Machu Picchu archaeological site will begin welcoming up to 675 visitors per day, Machu Picchu Archaeological Park director José Bastante told The Associated Press on an exclusive tour of the ruin almost empty before it reopened.

“We have an admission capacity limited to 30% in accordance with biosecurity measures and protocols,” Bastante said while overseeing the final preparations for the opening of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

The closure of Machu Picchu during the pandemic marks only the second time it has been closed since it opened to tourists in 1948. The first time was in 2010, when prolonged rains forced it to close.

Before the pandemic, Machu Picchu typically received around 3,000 tourists per day, although recent regulations were passed limiting visitors to 2,244 visitors per day to protect the ruins.

Before entering, visitors will have their temperature taken and will need to wear masks and stand at least six feet apart. Groups (including a guide) cannot exceed eight people and children under 12 will not be admitted.

In 2018, Machu Picchu welcomed 1.5 million visitors. The citadel was built in the 15th century as a religious sanctuary for the Incas at an elevation of 8,170 feet.

Peru’s tourism revenues have been frozen since it declared a general lockdown on March 16 to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. So far, 34,315 people have died from COVID-19 in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Associated Press contributed reporting.

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