Ex-pats voice their experiences about moving to the Caribbean during COVID-19

After Covid-19 spread through the world at an alarming pace last year Barbados was praised for having one of the best responses to the pandemic.

In an unusual move the government invited travellers to work remotely on the island using the Barbados Welcome Stamp  special visas.

The programme was announced on June 30 2020 when the island had zero cases allowing people from across the world to escape coronavirus and relocate for a maximum of 12 months.

Ruby Oluoch, Minnesota, USA, who successfully applied for a visa, said: “To temporarily relocate to Barbados was the single best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”

The 26-year-old left her Minneapolis home in December 2020 to escape the winter and the racial tension, following the death of George Floyd, which sparked protests worldwide.

Ms Oluoch said: “The racial situation is a completely different experience in Barbados, and as a black woman, it has been extremely positive for my mental and emotional well-being.

“I would tell anybody thinking of doing the same thing to just do it. Just buy the ticket.”

Ruby on a fishing trip with Eclipse Fishing Charters

Ruby on a fishing trip with Eclipse Fishing Charters

 

Following an outbreak of Covid-19, the island reported 100 confirmed cases for the first time on January 6 this year, and Barbados went into a ‘National Pause’, where locals and ex-pats were confined to their homes under strict lockdown measures.

Elizabeth Lopez,  35, who moved to Barbados with her family in October 2020, but has found the island’s restrictions this year particularly challenging.

She said: “‘It was really great the first couple of months. We met friends here, we were seeing things around the island. But the lockdown has had not a great impact.”

In November 2020, Mrs Lopez’s youngest children were attending school locally, but they were closed in January.

With four kids at home – two of which are pre-schoolers, Mrs Lopez and her husband found juggling remote working and home-life challenging.

Mrs Lopez, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, said: “My husband and I can’t always take them to the beach during the allocated times because we both work full-time. It’s been hard balancing our schedules accordingly.”

Elizabeth Lopez's 2 youngest, on their way to school on the island

Elizabeth Lopez’s two youngest, on their way to school in November

Gordon Seale, a beach resort owner, said: “If we continue to say that people have to go into quarantine, you can forget tourism.”

With 15 recorded cases on March 23 2021, certain restrictions on the island have been relaxed this week.

Written by Liseli Thomas

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