The Portuguese Atlantic Ocean island region The Azores has declared itself coronavirus-free and plans a return of tourism on July 1.

The islands’ tourist board said there were now no ‘active’ cases of Covid-19, with 130 of the 146 confirmed cases having recovered and 16 deaths as a result of the virus.

The autonomous region has also introduced a range of health and safety measures, including mandatory use of face masks, physical distancing and a ‘respiratory etiquette’.

Arrivals must either have a negative Covid-19 test taken in the last 72 hours, or be screened for the virus at the airport – involving an isolation period of between 12 and 48 hours – or return home.

Visitor is staying in the Azores for seven or more days must get a second test, with costs covered by the Azores.

Executive director of the Azores Tourism Board, Luís Capdeville Botelho, said: “The Azores Islands can today proudly declare the islands Covid-19 free, with no active cases reported.

“This pandemic has put life into perspective for us all, no matter where we live, which language we speak and what we believe in. It has taught us that nothing can be taken for granted and that it took us to pause as a human race in order to come through the dark times.

“From now on we are sure that people will cherish the safety of the Azores Islands, a destination which has always prided itself on its commitment to welcoming visitors with open arms, with their wellbeing at the forefront of our minds.”