For anyone tired of dodging coronavirus, sick of arguments over masks or just fed up with the home office grind, Bermuda has an offer: a year at the beach.
The British Overseas Territory of 64,000, known for its pink sand shorelines and balmy climate, is offering one-year, renewable residency certificates for remote workers and postsecondary students. It’s pitching itself as a refuge as Covid-19 cases continue to climb in other countries and upend rules about where people can work.
“The world is changing, and we want people we consider long-term visitors to come to Bermuda,” Premier David Burt said in a telephone interview.
Newly minted temporary residents may also provide a boost at a time when the pandemic is roiling the economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism, the government said in a statement.
Burt said life on the islands would appeal to foreigners because Bermuda managed to contain the spread of Covid-19 through rigorous testing, quarantine-monitoring bracelets, and rules on social distancing and mask wearing. Bermuda has had fewer than 150 confirmed Covid cases and nine deaths. As of Friday the island had just six active cases of the disease, Burt said.
“Unlike places where you have to worry about going to the supermarket, here we have very clear rules,” he said.
Bermuda’s programme, which costs US$263 and will begin on August 1, will be marketed in big cities along the eastern seaboard of North America. Barbados, an island in the eastern Caribbean, has floated a similar plan.
Burt said Bermuda has a history of temporary residencies for foreigners, having long offered one-year certificates to retirees.
The new programme will also include postsecondary students, from undergraduate to doctorate level – potentially attracting university-goers whose schools plan to offer only remote learning in the next academic year.
Workers approved for the one-year residency programme must have health insurance and be employed by a legitimate overseas firm or their own company, the government says.
“2020 is a year of innovation all around,” said Burt, who has led Bermuda since 2017. “We’re innovating to be responsive to the demands of people around the world.”
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.