Barbados wants to help fix your COVID-19 cabin fever by offering a change of scenery for a year.
The Caribbean island is considering allowing visitors to stay for up to 12 months, extending the previous limit for U.S. passport holders without a visa by six months.
Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced the “12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp” earlier this month that would allow “persons to come and work from here overseas, digitally so, so that persons don’t need to remain in the countries in which they are,” Mottley said in a press conference.
Mottley noted that working remotely doesn't mean you have to physically work near your office, making the case that living elsewhere — or even abroad — is possible for some occupations that simply require a reliable internet connection to accomplish work.
She continued: “The government is committed to working with you on the promotion of new concepts like the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, being able to open our borders to persons traveling and making it as hospitable as ever for all of us, and making it available for Barbadians from every walk of life to believe that for special occasions, or just for so, that they can come out and be a part of this wonderful exercise.”
Work-from-home is the new normal for many office jobs since the pandemic, with big-name companies like Facebook and Twitter leading the trend towards working from home as a permanent arrangement. Economists predict that in a post-COVID world companies will have as many as 74% of their workforces go remote.
And the change offers employees, especially those who were once beholden to large cities with expensive living costs, to live where it’s cheaper.
What’s the COVID-19 situation in Barbados?
The country has 98 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated Barbados its highest degree of Level 3 - Travel Health Notice, meaning there is “widespread ongoing transmission without restriction on entry to the United States” and to avoid non-essential travel.
Earlier this month, Barbados started to relax and lift certain restrictions. The country no longer abides by a curfew, social gatherings for up to 500 people can now take place, and three feet— instead of the U.S.’s requisite six feet— is sufficient for social distancing.
Who can travel to Barbados?
To ensure that international visitors don’t bring COVID-19 with them, the government set forth strict guidelines for entry.
Upon arrival, you will have a mandatory health assessment that may entail a temperature check and “brief interview” by a government official. Those under the age of five are exempt from testing.
If you arrive in Barbados with a negative COVID-19 test from an accredited lab or clinic that was administered within 72 hours prior to travel, you can be considered for “fast-tracking” through immigration.
If you don’t have a COVID-19 test, you can still arrive in the country and get tested at the airport free of charge. Testing will also take place at certain hotels for a fee of $150 USD.
Test results typically come back within 24 hours, and during that time visitors are permitted to stay in a “designated holding hotel” or temporary government housing — free of charge.
After your test comes back negative, you’re free to carry on with your vacation or extended stay. On the other hand, if your test results are positive, you won’t be given the option to travel home. Instead, you’ll be transported to an “alternative accommodation for isolation and treatment.” Only after your recovery will you be allowed to resume your time in Barbados or head home.
How do you travel to Barbados?
Being an island nation, air travel is the easiest form of accessibility.
Commercial flights to Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI), the country’s main international gateway, will resume beginning July 12.
July 12: Air Canada (Thursdays and Sundays)
July 18: British Airways
July 25: JetBlue
Aug. 1: Virgin Atlantic
Aug. 5: American Airlines
When planning your travel, be aware that face masks are required to be worn while in the airport. Consult the CDC for guidelines and safety measures while traveling.
Where can you live?
It sounds like wherever you want to, according to Mottley.
Extended-stay visitors can find accommodations in villas, condominiums, hotel rooms, and rental houses. There will also be workspaces available if you desire a work-life separation.
What’s the internet connection like?
Emphasizing the “remote” in remote working is a great idea in theory, except if you don’t have a strong internet connection.
Mottley addressed the concern: “In terms of broadband, we have two major telecommunications companies, and at the same time we are looking to see how we can continue to boost our national television station and move it from being a broadcasting entity to digital services.”
The country officially opens its borders to international visitors on July 12, 2020.