I moved to Barbados for the duration of the pandemic to do the job. This is how I did it

(CNN) — Just over a thirty day period ago, I packed my daily life in Hong Kong into two suitcases and moved 16,000 kilometers to Barbados.

I might never even been to the island before or traveled any where else in the Caribbean area for that make a difference.

Barbados is so far away from Hong Kong — the shortest travel time is 24 hours — that I wasn’t absolutely sure I’d ever get the possibility to go to.

But the well-liked destination, which resumed accepting intercontinental vacation on July 12 very last yr, launched a special visa identified as the Welcome Stamp in the same thirty day period. It made available the opportunity for persons to work there remotely for a calendar year. I thought, “Why not?”
As countries all around the earth ongoing to impose lockdowns and vacation limitations in a bid to include Covid-19 in mid-2020, Barbados — and numerous other nations in the Caribbean — appeared to have the virus less than handle and was reopening to the planet.

What Barbados necessitates to function there

Open up to all distant personnel who receive at the very least $50,000 yearly, the visa scheme has a fee of $2,000 for people or $3,000 for families, which is payable after programs have been approved.

Applicants are necessary to fill out an on line kind, post an income declaration and particulars of the do the job they are going to be conducting throughout their time on the island

All those who are acknowledged keep on to spend tax in their household region and are not liable for cash flow tax in Barbados.

“Covid-19 has adjusted the global company landscape as a more substantial number of people continue to perform from property,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said when the plan was introduced.

“With this new visa, we can deliver personnel with an option to commit the up coming 12 months working remotely from paradise, right here in Barbados.”

Welcome Stamp was just the ticket

I moved from Hong Kong to Barbados during the pandemic - Image of Andrea Lo in Barbados

Andrea Lo relocated to Barbados right after remaining recognized on to the island’s distant employee visa scheme.

Andrea Lo

The scheme would also support to generate Barbados’ financial state, which depends heavily on tourism and has been strike really hard by the results of the pandemic.

In Hong Kong, actuality was on the lookout grim for me when I initial discovered of the scheme. As a freelance journalist specializing in lifestyle subjects, I would shed most of my operate in 2020.

The pandemic experienced compounded the city’s politically unstable predicament. It felt like my hometown was getting to be a shell of its former self.

Nonetheless, I was not completely ready to cut ties with Hong Kong solely. I just preferred to go somewhere else for a when. Barbados’ Welcome Stamp was just the ticket, and it also offered the chance to grow my scope of function.

Just after learning that my software experienced been accepted within just a several days and taking some time to consider it via, I finished payment in October and prepared to transfer in November.

Relocating all through Covid-19: To start with, choose a route

Barbados is one of a number of destinations that has launched a special visa program aimed at remote workers.

Barbados is a person of a number of places that has released a specific visa program aimed at distant staff.


Organizing an itinerary that entails three times of voyage, at a time when international journey is very disrupted, was a obstacle.

There is no direct flight from Hong Kong to Bridgetown, the funds of Barbados.

Traveling, of system, isn’t really the most dependable point to be carrying out at this time. But as I’d be being in Barbados for an prolonged period of time, I was prepared to take the threat.

Since I am a dual British-Canadian citizen, I assumed my most secure wager was to do my layover in both of those people countries.

That would eliminate any prospect of getting turned away in a layover place wherever I am not a citizen should border policies out of the blue modify.

A London layover was a no-brainer. At the time, Hong Kong was on the UK’s listing of travel corridors, that means I would not have to quarantine on arrival. Passenger arrival types are demanded for both of those London and Bridgetown.

I booked to fly from Hong Kong to London, with a one particular-night time layover, and then a morning flight the following day to Bridgetown.

Subsequent, locate a Covid-19 take a look at website

Barbados requires travellers to existing negative Covid-19 PCR exam results taken 3 times in advance of arrival, and only individuals taken by nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal samples, fairly than nasal swabs or deep throat saliva samples.

Self-administered at-dwelling checks are also not accepted. My loved ones medical doctor also warned me about Covid-19 clinics that were not accredited.

It took me some time right before I was equipped to locate a clinic that satisfied all my necessities, which needed to present success with a pretty rapid turnaround considering the time between testing and arriving in Barbados.

On November 28, I set off for the airport in Hong Kong for my significant move.

However, whilst examining in for my Virgin Atlantic flight, I was told the London to Bridgetown leg of the journey had been canceled weeks back — I would been given no prior notification on this. There would be no flight for one more two weeks.

So I finished up unexpectedly remaining in Hong Kong for a fortnight. Paranoid about the climbing amount of situations in Hong Kong and conscious of the truth that I had to choose another Covid-19 test before my new journey date, I invested most of the two weeks — such as my 30th birthday in early December — at house.

Ultimately, on December 12, I got on the airplane to London for the initial leg of my journey.

Arriving and quarantining

Image of Barbados from Andrea Lo

Lo arrived in Barbados in December 2020 and is making the most of the versatility of doing work remotely from the island.

Andrea Lo

London was in lockdown at the time. I had about 24 hours there, and I invested all of it in my room at an airport hotel.

The upcoming working day, I was shocked by how busy Heathrow Airport’s departure region was — a stark distinction to the ghost town that Hong Kong Worldwide Airport experienced develop into.

I’d been traveling for so long by this point that the 9-hour journey to Barbados felt like an eternity. But I felt my exhaustion quickly fade absent when greeted with the sight of the deep blue Caribbean sea as we circled over Grantley Adams International Airport.

I before long observed myself basking in the sun as we have been requested to sort traces to present our test outcomes to personnel.

Clearing immigration was substantially more rapidly than I assumed — and people appeared genuinely psyched to see a different Welcome Stamper get there.

Possibly unsurprisingly, the lines for interviews with health officers took the longest. I was specified paperwork that described I was to just take my temperature and post them to the authorities by means of WhatsApp two times a day for 7 days.

In addition, I would will need to go through a required exam four to five times after the day I might taken a check in my property country. After that, I might be totally free to roam all-around Barbados.

At my hotel in Holetown on the west coastline — one of the government’s selected quarantine accommodations — I was pleasantly surprised to obtain that I was permitted to go out on the room’s patio location for the duration of quarantine.

The following day, the front desk assisted me to arrange to acquire the examination at a government clinic. Tourists also have the solution to take it finished in your space by a doctor or nurse, but at expense. Receiving it performed at a govt clinic is free, nevertheless you can expect to will need to pay out for a taxi to and back again.

The taxi journey was an fascinating probability to soak in the sights of Barbados right before I could enterprise out.

Subsequent to an array of colorful bungalow-type homes, I noticed a indication, issued by the community wellness authorities, in Bajan creole urging inhabitants to remain household and “secure yuh family.”

At the time, website visitors were told to expect their success inside of 24 to 48 hours. I would taken my examination at midday Tuesday and obtained my destructive final results in the early night on Thursday.

A few or so days in quarantine appeared somewhat insignificant when as opposed with the 14-working day typical countries this sort of as Canada adopted.

Functioning from paradise

With quarantine driving me, it was time to take a look at my new house. I moved out of my hotel and into an AirBnb in Hastings on the south coastline although searching for a spot to reside.

Changing to my new working several hours was not as demanding as I considered it would be. I experienced presently anticipated that improvements would be required right after shifting to the other aspect of the world. Barbados is specifically 12 hours guiding Hong Kong.

Because most of my get the job done is dependent in Asia, I get the job done in the course of the evenings — Asia’s morning. Operating into the early several hours is finished when vital.

That also usually means I generally consider Fridays off — when I wake up, it really is by now the beginning of the weekend in Hong Kong. But on the flip aspect, I also work Sunday late afternoons and evenings, which is Monday early morning in Hong Kong.

The elegance in working remotely, and as a freelancer, is that I have tons of versatility.

Curfew imposed

Image of Barbados from Andrea Lo

Barbados is presently in “a period of time of national pause” due to the fact of a rise in Covid-19 circumstances.

Andrea Lo

Close to the time I arrived in Barbados, reports of misbehaving visitors who were breaking quarantine policies began to arise. The region experienced had single-digit new figures for months — but it experienced seemed like a collection of quarantine breaches meant a local community spread could be imminent.

On January 2, next the discovery of a cluster of new circumstances, the govt imposed a curfew involving 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The following working day, there have been 161 new scenarios — a big boost from zero cases the day ahead of.

The curfew ongoing by way of the thirty day period, whilst circumstance figures continued to fluctuate. Vacation regulations improved — now website visitors can be expecting to stay more time in quarantine as opposed with what I seasoned again in December.

I’ve however been equipped to pay a visit to the gorgeous seashores for which Barbados is well-known — lots of of them are fairly vacant, furnishing sufficient room for social distancing — though I recognized that several companies had preferred to restrict their services or functioning hours, even with no formal direction to do so.

St. Lawrence Hole, an space on the south coastline famous for its dining and nightlife, was empty.

On January 27, the government declared a shutdown period of time from February 3 to 17. Most enterprises are established to be shut, with only supermarkets and fuel stations functioning in limited hours. The curfew is also remaining prolonged to 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Staying in lockdown although in paradise is most likely not anyone’s idea of enjoyment, but I maintain reminding myself that I’ll have the relaxation of the calendar year to discover this beautiful island.