The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, it’s fair to say, is a bit of a pain to get to. But then, just take in all that scenery: picturesque volcanic peaks, unspoiled beaches, serene turquoise waters. This cluster of Brazilian islands may be bang in the middle of the Atlantic, but really it’s not that surprising that more than 100,000 tourists fly out here in a typical year.
In March, of course, that flow of international visitors stopped overnight. Now, however, the governor of Fernando de Noronha, which was visited by Charles Darwin in the 1830s, has announced it will reopen to tourists again – along as they can prove they have already had Covid-19.
For the first time since March, the archipelago will welcome tourists again from tomorrow (September 2). The only hitch? All visitors must now provide a positive PCR or antibody test result dating to at least 20 days before arrival.
Guilherme Rocha, governor of the chain of 21 islands, isles and volcanic outcrops, said: ‘In this first stage of reopening, 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.’
There is still no scientific consensus on whether most people who get coronavirus are then immune, and if so, how long this might last for. Last week, Hong Kong recorded the world’s first lab-confirmed case of reinfection, though many scientists have argued this was a rare case.
‘What we’ve seen is that these cases of reinfection are very rare and very debatable. There are doubts,’ said Rocha. ‘The current understanding is that someone who has already had this disease is immune. So this is the protocol we are following.’
Brazil, as a whole, has already reopened its borders for air travel, as long as you are able to provide health insurance with minimum coverage of R$30,000 (£4,140, $5,580 or A$7,550). Though the country is still battling a major outbreak of cases, Fernando de Noronha has recorded zero deaths since March. Here’s hoping their new tough entry policy helps it stay that way.
Remember, many countries are still warning against all non-essential travel and some are quarantining all overseas arrivals, including their own returning citizens. Check all the relevant restrictions before you think about travelling.