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Machu Picchu eases Covid-19 visitor limit

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A tourist poses for a photo in front of the archaeological site of Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru on November 2. AFP

Machu Picchu eases Covid-19 visitor limit

The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of Peru’s tourist sites, has increased its daily visitor limit by 40 per cent to 1,116, according to the culture ministry.

Machu Picchu reopened on November 1 after a nearly eight-month lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, but for safety reasons, only 675 tourists were allowed to access the site per day, just 30 per cent of the number of visitors pre-pandemic.

The ministry said it decided to increase daily capacity after the rate of Covid-19 infections in Peru began to decline.

Before the pandemic, between 2,000 and 3,000 people per day entered the citadel, and as many as 5,000 during high season.

In March, on the last day of visits before shutting down, 2,500 people visited Machu Picchu.

The ministry said all visitors must comply with health and safety measures for the coronavirus, including wearing a mask.

Machu Picchu, which means “old mountain” in the indigenous Quechuan languages, is the most enduring legacy of the Inca empire that ruled a large swathe of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

The ruins of the Inca settlement, abandoned and overgrown by vegetation, were rediscovered in 1911 by the US explorer Hiram Bingham.

In 1983, UNESCO declared Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site.

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