Chile’s Easter Island, a popular tourist destination in the Pacific Ocean, officially reopened Monday after more than two years of coronavirus lockdown.
The first flight carrying tourists – many with bookings made before the pandemic – was due to land on Thursday, tourism officer Veronica Kunze told reporters.
“We have to open the island, but we have to do it safely,” she added.
Travelers must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and have a negative PCR test.
Located 3,500 kilometers west of the Chilean coast, the island is world-famous for its “moais”, giant human-shaped stone statues that are partially buried in the ground.
The island’s main source of income was national and international tourism before flights were grounded on March 16, 2020 following the first reported cases of coronavirus in Chile.
About 160,000 tourists used to arrive on Easter Island every year with two flights a day.
In the two years without tourists, islanders resorted to bartering and planting their own vegetable gardens, officials said.
The island has reported just two coronavirus cases with no hospitalizations or deaths.
The reopening will be gradual, initially with about two flights a week, said Kunze.
The local hospital has been reinforced, she added, and now has an isolation ward and a PCR lab.
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