(CNN) — Simply over a month in the past, I packed my life in Hong Kong into two suitcases and moved 16,000 kilometers to Barbados.
Barbados is so far-off from Hong Kong — the shortest journey time is 24 hours — that I wasn’t positive I would ever get the prospect to go to.
What Barbados requires to work there
Open to all distant staff who earn not less than $50,000 yearly, the visa scheme has a price of $2,000 for people or $3,000 for households, which is payable after functions have been authorized.
Candidates are required to fill out an internet type, submit an revenue declaration and particulars of the work they’re going to be conducting throughout their time on the island
Those that are accepted proceed to pay tax of their residence nation and usually are not answerable for revenue tax in Barbados.
“Covid-19 has modified the worldwide enterprise panorama as a bigger variety of folks proceed to earn a living from home,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley stated when the scheme was launched.
“With this new visa, we will present staff with a possibility to spend the following 12 months working remotely from paradise, right here in Barbados.”
Welcome Stamp was simply the ticket
Andrea Lo relocated to Barbados after being accepted onto the island’s distant employee visa scheme.
The scheme would additionally assist to drive Barbados’ economic system, which depends closely on tourism and has been hit arduous by the consequences of the pandemic.
In Hong Kong, actuality was trying grim for me once I first realized of the scheme. As a contract journalist specializing in way of life subjects, I would misplaced most of my work in 2020.
The pandemic had compounded town’s politically risky scenario. It felt like my hometown was changing into a shell of its former self.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t prepared to chop ties with Hong Kong solely. I simply wished to go some other place for some time. Barbados’ Welcome Stamp was simply the ticket, and it additionally supplied the chance to develop my scope of labor.
After studying that my software had been authorized inside a couple of days and taking a while to assume it by, I accomplished cost in October and ready to maneuver in November.
Relocating throughout Covid-19: First, decide a route
Barbados is considered one of a variety of locations that has launched a particular visa program aimed toward distant staff.
Planning an itinerary that entails three days of voyage, at a time when worldwide journey is extremely disrupted, was a problem.
There is no such thing as a direct flight from Hong Kong to Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados.
Touring, in fact, is not essentially the most accountable factor to be doing presently. However as I would be staying in Barbados for an prolonged interval, I used to be prepared to take the danger.
As a result of I’m a twin British-Canadian citizen, I believed my most secure wager was to do my layover in both of these nations.
That might remove any probability of being turned away in a layover nation the place I’m not a citizen ought to border guidelines immediately change.
A London layover was a no brainer. On the time, Hong Kong was on the UK’s record of journey corridors, that means I would not should quarantine on arrival. Passenger arrival varieties are required for each London and Bridgetown.
I booked to fly from Hong Kong to London, with a one-night layover, after which a morning flight the following day to Bridgetown.
Subsequent, discover a Covid-19 check web site
Self-administered at-home assessments are additionally not accepted. My household physician additionally warned me about Covid-19 clinics that weren’t accredited.
It took me a while earlier than I used to be capable of finding a clinic that happy all my necessities, which wanted to current outcomes with a reasonably fast turnaround contemplating the time between testing and arriving in Barbados.
On November 28, I set off for the airport in Hong Kong for my huge transfer.
Sadly, whereas checking in for my Virgin Atlantic flight, I used to be instructed the London to Bridgetown leg of the journey had been canceled weeks in the past — I would acquired no prior notification on this. There could be no flight for one more two weeks.
So I ended up unexpectedly remaining in Hong Kong for a fortnight. Paranoid in regards to the rising variety of circumstances in Hong Kong and acutely aware of the truth that I needed to take one other Covid-19 check earlier than my new journey date, I spent a lot of the two weeks — together with my thirtieth birthday in early December — at residence.
Lastly, on December 12, I obtained on the aircraft to London for the primary leg of my journey.
Arriving and quarantining
Lo arrived in Barbados in December 2020 and is having fun with the flexibleness of working remotely from the island.
London was in lockdown on the time. I had over 24 hours there, and I spent all of it in my room at an airport resort.
The subsequent day, I used to be shocked by how busy Heathrow Airport’s departure space was — a stark distinction to the ghost city that Hong Kong Worldwide Airport had develop into.
I would been touring for thus lengthy by this level that the nine-hour journey to Barbados felt like an eternity. However I felt my fatigue immediately fade away when greeted with the sight of the deep blue Caribbean sea as we circled above Grantley Adams Worldwide Airport.
I quickly discovered myself basking within the solar as we have been requested to type strains to current our check outcomes to workers.
Clearing immigration was a lot faster than I believed — and other people appeared genuinely excited to see one other Welcome Stamper arrive.
Maybe unsurprisingly, the strains for interviews with well being officers took the longest. I used to be given paperwork that defined I used to be to take my temperature and submit them to the authorities through WhatsApp twice a day for seven days.
As well as, I would wish to endure a compulsory check 4 to 5 days after the date I would taken a check in my residence nation. After that, I would be free to roam round Barbados.
At my resort in Holetown on the west coast — one of many authorities’s designated quarantine lodging — I used to be pleasantly shocked to seek out that I used to be allowed to exit on the room’s patio space throughout quarantine.
The subsequent day, the entrance desk helped me to rearrange to take the check at a authorities clinic. Vacationers even have the choice to take it performed in your room by a health care provider or nurse, however at price. Getting it performed at a authorities clinic is free, although you may must pay for a taxi to and again.
The taxi journey was an thrilling probability to soak within the sights of Barbados earlier than I might enterprise out.
Subsequent to an array of colourful bungalow-style properties, I noticed an indication, issued by the native well being authorities, in Bajan creole urging residents to remain residence and “shield yuh household.”
On the time, guests have been instructed to count on their outcomes inside 24 to 48 hours. I would taken my check at midday Tuesday and acquired my unfavourable leads to the early night on Thursday.
Three or so days in quarantine appeared comparatively minor when put next with the 14-day normal nations equivalent to Canada adopted.
Working from paradise
With quarantine behind me, it was time to discover my new residence. I moved out of my resort and into an AirBnb in Hastings on the south coast whereas searching for a spot to dwell.
Adjusting to my new working hours was not as difficult as I believed it could be. I had already anticipated that modifications could be obligatory after shifting to the opposite aspect of the world. Barbados is precisely 12 hours behind Hong Kong.
Since most of my work is predicated in Asia, I work throughout the evenings — Asia’s morning. Working into the early hours is completed when obligatory.
That additionally means I usually take Fridays off — once I get up, it is already the start of the weekend in Hong Kong. However on the flip aspect, I additionally work Sunday late afternoons and evenings, which is Monday morning in Hong Kong.
The wonder in working remotely, and as a freelancer, is that I’ve tons of flexibility.
Barbados is at present in “a interval of nationwide pause” due to an increase in Covid-19 circumstances.
Across the time I arrived in Barbados, stories of misbehaving vacationers who have been breaking quarantine guidelines started to emerge. The nation had had single-digit new numbers for months — but it surely had appeared like a sequence of quarantine breaches meant a group unfold may very well be imminent.
The curfew continued by the month, whereas case numbers continued to fluctuate. Journey guidelines modified — now guests can count on to stay longer in quarantine in contrast with what I skilled again in December.
I’ve nonetheless been in a position to go to the attractive seashores for which Barbados is known — a lot of them are fairly empty, offering ample area for social distancing — although I seen that many companies had chosen to restrict their providers or working hours, even with out official steering to take action.
St. Lawrence Hole, an space on the south coast well-known for its eating and nightlife, was empty.
On January 27, the federal government introduced a shutdown interval from February 3 to 17. Most companies are set to be closed, with solely supermarkets and gasoline stations working in restricted hours. The curfew can also be being prolonged to 7 p.m. to six a.m.
Being in lockdown whereas in paradise might be not anybody’s thought of enjoyable, however I preserve reminding myself that I am going to have the remainder of the yr to discover this stunning island.