Beginning on November 1, international flights from 25 cities—including from six U.S. cities—will be allowed back to Peru, as the South American country and its ancient Incan citadel Machu Picchu reopen after being closed off for seven months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Flights to Lima will be allowed from Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Miami, Houston, and Atlanta in the United States. They will also be allowed from hubs in Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and El Salvador. These are in addition to routes that were allowed to restart on October 5, from Ecuador, Bolivia, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, and Chile.
Foreign travelers arriving in Peru can bypass a quarantine requirement if they have evidence of a negative molecular (PCR) COVID-19 test procured within 72 hours of arrival into the country.
Starting on November 1, the archaeological site Machu Picchu will begin welcoming up to 675 visitors a day, the director of Machu Picchu archaeological park, José Bastante, told the Associated Press during an exclusive visit to the near-empty ruin ahead of its reopening.
“We have a limited 30 percent admission capacity in compliance with biosafety measures and protocols,” Bastante said while supervising final preparations to open the UNESCO World Heritage site.
The closure of Machu Picchu during the pandemic marks only the second time it has been shut down since it opened to tourists in 1948. The first time was in 2010 when prolonged rains forced it to close.
Prior to the pandemic, Machu Picchu typically received about 3,000 tourists a day—though recent regulations had been passed limiting visitors to 2,244 visitors a day to protect the ruins.
Before entering, visitors will have their temperatures taken and will be required to wear masks and to stand at least six feet apart. Groups (including a guide) cannot be larger than eight people, and children under 12 will not be allowed.
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 altitude of 8,170 feet.
Peru’s tourism revenues have been frozen since it decreed a general lockdown March 16 to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. So far, 34,315 people have died from COVID-19 in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Associated Press contributed reporting.