It’s not often destinations make requests of tourists. Normally travellers make demands of the places they are out to see, holding them to account on forums like TripAdvisor (often to the point you wonder whether they are talking about a stretch of sand or a careless ex-lover).
2020 has changed all that. It’s now par for the course for tourism-dependent destinations to make health and safety requests of those who come to visit. From requesting a COVID negative test before exiting the airport to enforcing a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine on arrival, the strategies are varied.
The aim? Limit the spread of The Bat Kiss.
One beachy Brazilian paradise has just made an unconventional demand of any tourist that visits. To enjoy the tropical idyll that is Fernando de Noronha, a Brazilian island which sits 334km off the country’s northeastern coast (with the “the world’s best beach” to boot), you must have had COVID-19.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find the request makes sense: you must have had COVID-19 and have recovered from it.
“Visitors will need to prove they have recovered from the virus, and will need to submit one of two types of tests – PCR virus tests or IgG antibody tests – at least 20 days before arriving at the island,” Traveller reports.
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Famous for abundant sea life, pristine beaches and dramatic mountainsides rising above the coast, Fernando de Noronha is a tourist mecca and UNESCO world heritage site.
“The move by the tourism-dependent archipelago, which has about 3,100 permanent residents according to the most recent census estimate, speaks to the unique ways that state, local and national governments are trying to return to a semblance of normal as new COVID-19 cases and deaths stabilize in many parts of the world,” Reuters reports.
Flights already appear to be filling up with island employees.
Imagine vc chegando em Fernando de Noronha p/tirar férias e sendo recebido dessa maneira, subjugado por uma autoridade investida de um poderzinho arrogante e tirano. Gostou? Que tal? pic.twitter.com/jAS3Xub0e9
— Bia Kicis (@Biakicis) August 27, 2020
The island’s decision has also sparked debate over the level of immunity that coronavirus patients develop after surviving a first infection. As Reuters reports, though there have been cases of re-infection reported, including in Brazil, such instances are “relatively rare.”
Guilherme Rocha, Fernando de Noronha’s administrator, said of the policy: “Only tourists who have already had COVID and have recovered and are immune to the disease will be authorised (since) they can neither transmit it, nor be infected again.”
André Longo, the health secretary of the state of Pernambuco, said in a statement: “There hasn’t been community transmission on the island for a long time. We have to keep it that way.”
“Obviously, this step is going to be done with an eye on safety and reactivating economic activity on the archipelago.”
At the time of writing Fernando de Noronha has reported 93 confirmed cases of coronavirus and no deaths. It banned tourism in March and has now re-opened to tourists who have recovered from COVID, starting September the 1st.
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Mainland Brazil has experienced 120,000 known deaths and 3.8 million confirmed cases. This number has begun to stabilise in recent weeks but remains high. Controversial Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has attracted domestic and international condemnation for his laissez-faire approach to The Pandemic – one that has softened slightly since he caught the dangerous virus, ironically.