Machu Picchu’s mayor questions reopening of Incan site on July 24th, amid fears COVID-19 will spread into the community.
Widely considered the crown jewel of our country Machu Picchu was scheduled to reopen July 24, 2020. The reopening date is significant as it marks the discovery of the historic Incan citadel in 1911. Monday, Jean Paul Benavente governor of Cusco announced,
“We are always under evaluation, in principle July 24 is the confirmed date for reopening, but some elements related to biosafety protocols are still to be finalized”
Darwin Baca León, mayor of Machu Picchu stated,
“There are no guarantees for the reopening of Machu Picchu”
He questioned the safety of reopening Machu Picchu over fears the virus would spread.
The mayor’s statement comes just as a new lockdown order in the Cusco province of La Convencion is being issued. It borders Urubamba province, home of the Incan site. The centralized lockdown was ordered by local authorities in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Convencion province, and Machu Picchu’s mayor is worried the virus will spread to his province. La Convencion Province mayor, Hernán De la Torre stated that the quarantine will begin on July 22nd and last for 10 days. These dates interfere with the planned reopening of the site.
While Governor Benavente had announced the reopening of Machu Picchu on July 24th, he also went on to remark,
“we are always under evaluation …and that some elements related to COVID-19 biosafety protocols are still to be adjusted”
Following recommendations by international experts, the number of daily visitors to the Incan site is limited to 2,244. This is half the usual number of tourists that visited Machu Picchu before the start of the pandemic. The limit on daily tourists was first recommended to preserve the site, which has been listed as a Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 1983. However, during the pandemic, it can also serve to help prevent the virus’s spread.
Even with the uncertain reopening date for Machu Picchu our country is still taking steps to move past the devastating economic effects caused by the virus. On July 15th, Peru began to try and revive the country’s struggling economy by resuming national ground and air transport. The Peruvian government is also looking at the possibility of reopening the borders, which have been closed for four months, in late August.
However, the pandemic still has a firm grip on the country of 33 million residents. On Monaday 20, Peru reported over 369,000 COVID-19 infections and a death rate for coronavirus of over 16,000. These numbers might force Peruvian authorities to reevaluate all planned opening dates for the near future.
We will continue updating information about Peru for all those whom had purchased tours to visit Machu Picchu, so keep an eye on our blog posts.