12-Month Barbados Welcome Stamp
COVID-19 has forced most of the world to shelter in place and given new meaning to the term “working remotely.” But many Americans are coming to realize that doesn’t necessarily mean staying home!
By Natalie Heintz
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I’m not sure why this particular social media post caught my eye. But it did and I’m grateful for the adventure it has launched. I’m writing this article on my iPhone. My office is a balcony looking out at the Caribbean Sea!
But I digress! Let’s get back to the post that caught my eye.
The prime minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, came out with a statement saying that their country would be allowing one-year work visas, better known as the “12 Month Barbados Welcome Stamp.” This is a visa that allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations. I thought, wow that is a good move for their tourism.
Barbados launched this effort shortly after Google announced that their employees would not be returning to the office until at least July 2021. When a company as well-known as that makes that statement, many tend to follow.
Hmmm, I thought to myself, why don’t I go to Barbados? Maybe not for a year but why not a month?
The stars were lining up. I had just taken on the new role of Social Media Director for TravelAnne.com. My Fiancé, who owns a data analytics firm in DC, has been running the company remotely since March. We’re young and the risks are low.
The Universe was trying to tell me something and I needed to listen.
TravelAnne herself did some research for me and the next thing I knew this started to become real. Was I going to another country for a whole month? Well, with one canceled flight and two COVID tests later I am in my condo on the beach in Speightstown, Barbados with my fiancé Scott.
The process of getting to Barbados was challenging but far from impossible… especially with the Universe whispering in my ear!
We were required to get a negative PCR COVID test within 72 hours of arrival in Barbados. We flew out of DCA (Washington Reagan Airport) and connected in Miami. When boarding the plane in Miami we saw some issues for other travelers. There were a handful of people who were turned away because their COVID tests were not PCR tests or they were just outside of the 72-hour mark.
It was comforting knowing that everyone that was on our plane from Miami to Bridgetown had negative tests within last couple of days.
We arrived in Bridgetown, Barbados and deboarded the plane. We were met by staff who first checked our COVID tests to make sure they were within their requirements and then we proceeded to another group of staff at the doors of the airport who gave us rope-like wristbands that read “Welcome to Barbados, stay safe in quarantine”. They made us sanitize our hands, took our temperatures and gave us a form to fill out that would be handed to a nurse after you go through customs.
We proceeded to the next stop which was a table where we were asked which hotel we were to be quarantined at. They gave specific wristbands for each hotel. We went through customs and were made to sanitize our hands once again.
We waited in line to give the nurse our forms where she gave us an information sheet that had specific instructions about who we call for our second COVID test and up to how many days we could be quarantined (7 days max). It also stated that we were to have our temperatures checked twice a day, between 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm. We were to text the number given our temperatures every time we took them.
When we arrived at our hotel the front desk had a station with a camera that, as you walked up close enough, would read your temperature.
What did quarantine mean? We weren’t quite sure what to expect. Did we have to stay in our room for 7 days? The answer is no. The hotel had two pools. One pool allowed people who were not in quarantine and the other for those in quarantine. We could order food to the pool or order food to our room. Not a bad way to quarantine, lying next to the pool and gazing at the beautiful ocean.
We were lucky enough to schedule our 2nd COVID test two days after we had arrived. That morning arrived and we were picked up by a taxi and taken to the army base there. We waited in our car for about an hour and thirty minutes.
As time went by more and more cars pulled in. The nurses and doctors came to each window individually and did intake of our passport information and where we were in quarantine. Then we were summoned to a nearby building where we lined up in a single file socially distanced line with probably about 60-80 people.
One by one we each went in where we got the swab straight up the nose which felt like it went to your brain.
We left and a little over 24 hours later we received the call that our test results were negative and they would be calling the reception of our hotel to inform them. They cut off those bright red quarantine bracelets and we were free to explore the island as we wished!
Overall the experience was not difficult at all. They were very organized at the airport and the measures that were taken made us feel very safe and now relaxed that we had completed all of their safety requirements.
We could now enjoy this beautiful country!
As I am writing this we have been here for almost 2 weeks. We have met many people from the UK who are trying to get to the US. They came here for 14 days and will then be allowed in the US. We have also met several people from the US who came down here and are staying for the year! The Bajan people that we have met have been so friendly and kind.
To be able to experience this island is a blessing for us… even more so in a year like 2020!
** Natalie Heintz is Social Media Director and a staff writer for TravelAnne.com. She is a former college athlete who is transitioning from a career in health care to a role in the travel industry. More importantly, Natalie writes like her Dad and gets her love of travel from her Mom.