Bermuda Pitches Island Life as Escape From Pandemic Madness

For anyone tired of dodging coronavirus Bermuda has an offer: a year at the beach.

Bermuda Pitches Island Life as Escape From Pandemic Madness
Hamilton, Bermuda. (Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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 post-secondary 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 will 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 had less 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.

WFH Forever

As the pandemic continues to rage across the U.S. many companies have ruled out an immediate return to offices for employees who can work remotely. Others, including Silicon Valley giants Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., enacted policies allowing work from home indefinitely.

Bermuda’s program, which costs $263 and will begin Aug. 1, will be marketed in big cities across the East Coast, including New York, Toronto, Boston and Miami. 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 program will also include post-secondary students, from undergraduate to doctorate level -- potentially attracting college-goers whose schools plan to offer only remote learning in the next academic year.

Workers approved for the one-year residency program 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’s led Bermuda since 2017. “We’re innovating to be responsive to the demands of people around the world.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.