Blacktip Island hopes to boost its flagging economy by luring vaccinated office workers to work remotely on the island during the pandemic. (photo courtesy of Leah Shore)
To boost its economy, Blacktip Island leaders this week announced a plan to allow international office workers who are fully-vaccinated against the COVID virus to work remotely on the small Caribbean island without a work permit.
“We’ve got to jumpstart things, financially, pronto,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “No telling when tourism’s coming back, so with all these folks around the world working from home, why not live in the Caribbean and soak up some sun while they’re at it?
“If they’re vaccinated, and can prove they don’t have The ‘Vid, they’re welcome,” Cobia said. “We’ll waive all visa and permit requirements, just come down, rent an apartment and spend money at the store and bars. And the restaurants. Both of them.”
Island businesses welcomed the plan.
“Blacktip’s COVID-free, and we need to make the most of that before we go bankrupt,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “We’re all tested and safe. As long as you are, too, ERD’s your huckleberry. Work in the morning, then dive in the afternoons. Hopefully we can fill our boats, or at least cover expenses.”
Many residents, though, questioned the idea for public health reasons.
“Any yahoo can get a fake vax card,” Angela Fisher said. “And just ‘cause you pass a screening doesn’t mean you can’t still carry the stuff. We’re safe now, but these immigrants could bring the plague down on us.”
Others were more concerned about emergency scenarios.
“Thing is, once you’re here, you’re stuck—you can’t just pop back to your country of origin,” Harry Wrasse said. “Sure, you get to work in paradise, but it’s a bit of a Hotel California situation—you can get here anytime, but your home authorities won’t let you leave.
“Also, what happens if you hurt or sick?” Wrasse said. “Marissa at the clinic is great, but she has limited supplies. You need a hospital, you’re screwed.”
Emergency planners criticized the plan’s timing.
“Height of hurricane season, and we’re bringing more people onto a small island?” Molly Miller said. “If a big storm comes, they, none of us, can get away. Never mind these extra folks putting a strain on our limited resources. The store shelves’re already half empty.”
Local merchants were not concerned.
“I can always order more food,” Peachy’s Groceries and Sundries owner Peachy Bottoms said. “Problem is, there’s not enough people on-island to buy what I have. Hell, send down all the people as you can. I’ll feed ‘em. And sell ‘em hurricane supplies, too.”