Major tourist sites in Rio de Janeiro including the Christ the Redeemer statue (locally known as the Cristo Redentor) overlooking the Brazilian city and Sugarloaf Mountain, have reopened to public after being shut for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The reopening of the popular attractions comes with safety guidelines on the number of visitors permitted at the landmarks in Rio de Janeiro.
The Christ the Redeemer started welcoming visitors Saturday afternoon onwards, according to the official Paineiras Corcovado website.
Precautions including temperature checks, and allowing fewer people is being taken at other tourist attractions that opened over the weekend.
SEE PHOTOS: The Christ the Redeemer reopened after deep cleaning amid Covid-19
“The reopening of the Christ (monument) symbolizes the reopening of Brazil to tourism,” Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said at a ceremony at the base of the statue as per an AFP report.
Visitors to these sites will also be required to mandatorily wear masks and maintain social distancing. Some visitors also lie on the ground for the perfect angle of a photo at the feet of the huge Art Deco statue with its arms outstretched, which has been prohibited.
Social distancing measures enforced the closure of these tourist sites since March, however, Christ the Redeemer has continued to function as a religious sanctuary in these months, offering public masses and holding vigils to honour healthcare workers and victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Christ the Redeemer statue, created by French sculptor Paul Landowski, built by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, in collaboration with French engineer Albert Caquot was constructed between 1922 and 1931. Romanian sculptor Gheorghe Leonida fashioned Christ’s face on the statue. It’s located atop 710-meter-high (2,300-feet) Corcovado hill in the center of Rio in Tijuca national park, offering a spectacular panoramic view of the city and its environs. The statue is counted among the New 7 Wonders of the World list.
Members of the military were engaged in the statue’s disinfection exercise ahead of its reopening over the weekend.
Brazil’s National Confederation of Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC) estimates that the country’s tourism sector has lost 154 billion reales ($28.4 billion) over the last five months, operating at only 14 percent of its capacity amid the pandemic.
Rio de Janeiro that is home to 17 million inhabitants, has registered more than 14,500 deaths and nearly 190,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to official statistics.
Brazil, with 106,500 deaths and 3.2 million cases to date, is the second hardest-hit country in the world, after the US.
People marked this grim milestone by posting on social media assets using the hashtag #100thousanddeaths in solidarity with the families of Covid-19 victims. Rio of Peace, the NGO, also displayed a hundred crosses in the sand along with a poster asking: “Why are we the second in number of deaths?”
While it might be a while for a vaccine to be available, authorities in Rio have announced a new format, including urging people to watch events online, for the year-end celebrations that traditionally bring millions of people to Copacabana beach for a huge fireworks display.
Rio’s world-famous carnival, with its huge street parties, also risks being cancelled by the pandemic.
Other tourist attractions that opened over this weekend were the Pao de Acucar cable car, which offers its own panoramic view of the city, the AquaRio aquarium and the gigantic Rio Star, Latin America’s largest Ferris wheel, inaugurated only last year in the port area.
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