Iconic tourist destination Machu Picchu will remain closed for the whole of July because of delays in setting up safety measures and because locals fear an influx of visitors could bring the coronavirus.
The Management Unit of Machu Picchu (UGM) made the decision based on research from the authorities of the region of Cusco in south-central Peru, where the Inca citadel is located.
The Mayor of the District of Macupicchu, Darwin Baca, who is a member of the UGM, confirmed the site will not open and said that sanitary measures such as testing are still needed before the tourist attraction can open.
The delay comes after the Peruvian government had originally announced last week that Machu Picchu would reopen in July with limited access.
However, Jean Paul Benavente, from the regional government of Cusco, has now told local media that the national government is yet to pass the reopening protocols.
Local residents are reportedly fearful of reopening as the area has been relatively unscathed by the pandemic.
Residents gathered in the streets to ask for more safety measures to be put in place for tourists as well as for a programme of economic stimulation from the national government.
The protestors asked for a law allowing for bank debts to be frozen for two years and for a new health centre to be built in the area.
Mayor Baca said: “We are outraged that the government is financing the private sector while municipalities living from tourism are starving.”
Oscar Valencia, President of the Front of Defence of Machu Picchu, said: “We are at a higher risk of getting infected, the infection rate is increasing (in other parts of Peru), I am sure there will be an outbreak because we are not ready to welcome visitors”.
According to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University, Peru has registered 257,447 cases of COVID-19 and 8,223 related deaths.
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