This article originally appeared on VICE India.
The work from home hustle may have cut down on commute time and allowed us to turn our bedrooms into boardrooms. But, we’re still a gorgeous view and a couple (dozen) cocktails short of a staycation. Fortunately, some of the world’s most breathtaking islands are offering the ultimate getaway in the time of coronavirus. At least for those of us still juggling a full-time job with the overwhelming urge to spend all day binge-watching Netflix.
Bermuda, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean island of Barbados are opening up their stunning vistas, crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches for business by offering year-long renewable residency visas for remote workers.
Bermuda, studded with pink sand beaches and which served as the mythical setting for Shakespeare's Tempest, managed to work around the coronavirus crisis reportedly through rigorous testing and mandatory 14-day quarantines with social distancing bracelets. Now, the archipelago with a population of 64,000 has just six active cases, with a total of 150 cases and nine deaths.
Despite its resilient recovery in terms of COVID-19 cases, the island, whose economy heavily relies on tourism, has seen its revenue decline by 12 percent because of the lack of foreigners coming here on vacation.
The government has thus launched the residency programme, which costs applicants $263, to boost the economy. Applications can be submitted through the government's website from August 1. The Bermuda islands have designated King Edward Memorial Hospital and the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute for COVID-19 care. Passengers coming into the islands either have to show a COVID-19 negative test result or spend 14 days in quarantine, and then get tested. The quarantine period is extended upto 28 days if the visitor does not wish to get tested.
However, this programme is only open for corporate employees who work for a “legitimate” overseas firm or their own company, and have health insurance. It is also open to post-secondary students over the age of 18, including undergraduates and doctorates, to attract students whose universities have the option of remote learning.
Following suit, the Barbados islands in the Caribbean have also launched a similar programme called the “Barbados Welcome Stamp”. Barbados is offering a year-long residency visa to people who earn more than $50,000, at a cost of $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families. They also have strict rules prohibiting remote workers from taking on any local jobs while working on their tan.
Barbados, which has seen a revenue decline of 31 percent thanks to the pandemic, has confirmed 106 cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths in a population of 286,000. The island has chalked out four locations as isolation centres.
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