Montserrat, an island in the Caribbean, offers a coronavirus-free paradise for tourists who are lucky enough to get in.
The British territory closed down to tourists in March 2020 after a few cases of the virus were detected on the island. It reopened to tourists in April 2021 but imposed some strict conditions.
To be accepted, a tourist must earn at least $70,000 a year, endure a two-week quarantine upon arrival, and, until recently, agree to stay at least two months. Tourists do not have to be vaccinated, but they must undergo a coronavirus test before they can explore the island.
The government is selective in who it lets in. To date, only 21 people from seven different families have participated.
Visitors who are admitted, though, have access to wide-open beaches. They are also able to participate in an island culture that is COVID-19 free.
In 1995, Soufriere Hills volcano on Montserrat erupted, leaving much of the southern half of the island uninhabitable.
But the volcano seems to be the only danger for the few tourists who have agreed to the two-month stay.
“I remember toward the beginning of the pandemic, I was like, man, I wonder if there’s places in the world that are not dealing with any of this craziness,” Krystal Bajkor told the New York Times. Bajkor, who is from North Carolina, has stayed with her family on Montserrat for five months.
The program appears to have succeeded at its goals of bringing in some tourist dollars while also keeping the island safe from COVID-19. The latter is crucial, as an outbreak could be devastating. Less than a quarter of the roughly 5,000 inhabitants of the island are vaccinated.
Not everyone on the island is pleased.
Clover Lea runs a small motel on the island that has not hosted any of the tourists. “I wouldn’t say it is a huge success,” she told the New York Times.
But change is coming. Starting on Oct. 1, all tourists will be welcome in Montserrat if they are vaccinated. The island also recently ended the two-month stay requirement for tourists.
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Original Author: David Hogberg
Original Location: Montserrat a coronavirus-free tourist destination — for those who can get in