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Thank you very much. That Pat Kenny show on Newstalk. Amum, you heard the high of 23 degrees today, what about a high of 31 degrees Celsius with a 25 percent chance of precipitation? And that's not the forecast for us, but the forecast for Barbados now. In recent weeks, Barbados has announced a scheme to allow tourists to work there remotely for up to 12 months. And I'm joined on the line now by the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.


Prime Minister.


Good morning. Good morning, how are you, sir? I am very well. Let's talk about what's going on in Barbados vis a vis covid-19. You have very few cases and just a handful of deaths.


That is true, we've been lucky so far, but we've had to work very hard to achieve that. So we're constantly vigilant with respect to it because we're conscious that this is a matter that can so easily get away from anyone. Now, the information we got from the website told us that in total, you've only had seven deaths, 17 active cases at the moment, and a total of 178 cases since the beginning. So you've done very well.


Thank you very much. Yes, we have. And the population has been very responsive in terms of working together thus far. But the balance between lives and livelihoods means that we've had to be able to take harsh decisions with respect to short term lockdowns earlier in the year and April and May. And that has now been a dividend for us in terms of limiting the number of cases. And that's one of the reasons that we're trying to reopen in ways that are sustainable, that are safe for as many people as possible, that minimize risk.


And we've been able to do that. And that is where we've come up with the concept of the twelvemonth welcome stamp, which quite frankly, helps us to deal with the fact that short term terrorism, as long as there's an absence of a vaccine or a serious therapeutic, is one that is not obviously as attractive to persons travelling globally as before. And to that extent, if people are going to come, we've said to them, well, look, spend some time come, why not work from here?


Why not conduct your business from here? I'm speaking to you and I'm looking at the ocean that has a therapeutic effect for a lot of people. And we recognise that in some instances, genuinely with winter immerged come in again. There are a number of people who, for whatever reason, would prefer not to face covid in a couple of players and would prefer to have a drier, warmer climate from which to do so. So we believe that that is an opportunity for us, while at the same time starting to mitigate some of the losses that we've experienced as a result of the immediate falloff in tourism that took place since March.


Now, the two big issues confronting anyone who's working remotely and you may have heard our news headlines, there were Google in Dublin and they've a massive workforce in Dublin. They've decided not to lease a new building, which will come on stream shortly because they anticipate so many workers will work remotely, then work from their homes wherever those homes may be.


But the question is accommodation and the cost of accommodation, and secondly, the quality of broadband that would be needed to work remotely.


So how do you fare?


Well, so far, we've been reasonably competitive, and Bovary's has always, always had a level of international business with respect to persons coming here, particularly from Canada and elsewhere. And as a result, when you combine that with what we've been able to do locally, we can hold our own with respect to most major countries and metropolis, with respect to the quality of accommodation that is pretty much here as well. And it depends on what level you want to look at.


The program is open to persons earning 50000 U.S. and up, and that is because we are literally trying to ensure that persons who are coming are doing remote work. And thus far we've had about 100 applications. And I'm confident that will continue to be attractive and a number of people because of that on the desirability of the destination. But as I said, in some instances of people, there are medical reasons why they may need to be in a warmer climate.


They may have particular vulnerabilities covid. So they need to be somewhere where they are less likely to catch it. The number of reasons why people would want to come and we therefore recognize that we need a range of accommodation to be able to deal with that. And fortunately, we have that in the area of travel.


So if people were to go to Barbados and say a couple, each of them working remotely, so they would need maybe a two bedroom apartment or a two bedroom apartment at least, what would it cost them per month in US dollars or euros?


It varies it depends on what you want to get. I think you can get anything from about fifteen hundred U.S. dollars upwards. It just depends on where the location is on the beaches, away from the beach and a number of options in the country. And then, of course, the advent of Airbnb over the last few years, the number of homes as well that are not necessarily within the immediate range of the tourism belt, but which are nevertheless available to persons.


And of course, we have a public transport system, as well as the availability of many, many rental vehicles. The country is really leveraging its tourism framework to be able to accommodate the remote work visa. And again, that question of quality broadband throughout Barbados, what is the quality like, what's the speed like?


Basically, whatever you get in London and New York, 100 megs quite easily, 100 gigs, so quite easily, and the upload speeds are credible as well, particularly for persons who have to rely on it. I'm talking to you. I've been doing virtual work literally since the end of March. I'm involved being involved in all kinds of summits and I've been doing it from all over the island and we've had no problems.


Now, the question is, after 12 months of working remotely, I suspect many people would actually get to to love barbarities and they might not want to come home when their visa runs out.


Yes. Yes. The irony is that we're actually in the process of settling a new immigration bill in the country. One of the things that we've found, and it established a national population commission when we came into office two years ago, and we discovered as a result of the work of that commission that we have not really replaced our population since 1980 in terms of opportunity and growth. And to that extent, we have probably 80000 less than we should be.


It means that we are going to have to have a fairly liberal approach to immigration, where at the same time having a very strong framework for managing migration to the island. Obviously, persons who are Barbadian descendants, however far, have a particular natural right. But then we start to look at skills and we start to look at where the country needs to be able to make that population gap be felt for us in a way that will add value to our development trajectory.


And clearly, that is going to be something that is going to be very keenly managed by us if we are going to be able to reverse what is beginning to look like the demographic profile of a developed country, quite frankly, with the level of persons age and the level of numbers of the workforce now being required to carry the aging population as a result of this shift in that demographic profile that we have, so many of these are possible. In short, all things are possible.


One of my listeners, his name is Calame, says, if I was 20 years younger and in a position to do so, I'd heartily recommend Barbados for anyone thinking about relocating a beautiful island with a beautiful people.


I've long since said to myself, I must go back.


Now, in terms of the rules at the moment that you're employing, is mask wearing mandatory in public? What about social distancing and a further thing? Suppose you did get sick. What about the hospital service?


Yeah, man, mask wearing is not mandatory, but is strongly encouraged and most people are wearing it in public. We are also encouraging physical distance and like with everything else, we have a monitoring unit as a case of ensuring that people comply with the rules. But for the most part, the country has, as I said, are very grateful to the population for following these rules with respect to health care facilities. One of the things that we do after the president's visit is that you just ensure that you have insurance coverage if you are are coming here and you don't have it.


We plan to make sure that you can be able to purchase something as well. But what we did is respect our health care facilities. In February of this year, we literally started work on all retired naval base that we had gotten about from the Americans. And that has at one stage been used as a temporary prison about sometime back when the prison that burned about 15 years ago and then thereafter abandoned. So we were able to convert that buildings on that site into a primary care hospital with us being able to have just under 80 isolation intensive care beds in isolation and then another 120 isolation beds so as to be able to significantly expand the medical capacity of the country beyond its own general hospital.


So we've been able to do that, thankfully, and that's made a big, big, big difference to our capacity to be able to manage and and the extent to which we can take risk and not take this seriously.


And if you start doing the sums in terms of the ratios of population round figures, I suppose we have 20 times more population than you have.


If you've got 80, that would be the equivalent of 6500 intensive care beds here. And we don't have that.


So you have proportionately far more facilities available to you should anything go wrong on Barbados than you do have on the island of Ireland.


Prime Minister, I should ask you finally, I mean, how do people apply for this new visa?


I'll send you the link is all over the Internet about this 12 month remote visa, once you do a Google search, you'll find it and it's all of the above with its tourism officers available in London and elsewhere will have it. We've been trying to do extensive and aggressive social media marketing as well. So it's pretty easy to find. And as I said, we've had 100 applications in a month, which is pretty good for for for what we set out to do.


We've converted a number of them. So we look forward to you and all others come and visit us. And some people decided they can go 12 months to the camp for four to five people have come in for different variations that come in for a bit and then they go and come back. So it is designed to accommodate all interests and all comers.


Okay, well, I must say it sounds very, very attractive. The one downside, I suppose, is if you're doing business with this island or London or whatever, you would have to get up a little bit earlier in the morning. But then having done your work, you'd have the rest of the day.


That's right, just to have a wonderful swim on the beach, a cocktail and to be able to do if you don't like swimming and you want to go hiking or whatever you are, is your desert island has a broad range of activities to offer people. And that's why we have the highest visitor rate in the region, largely because once you come, you always want to come back.


Well, on a gray day, looking out my window, I can just imagine what it's like to see the blue waters of Barbados and that balmy temperature. But on that note, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Motley, thank you very much for joining us on our program.


Thank you so much, and I look forward to meeting you one day. Have you met Rufus? He's a playful little monster, but even Rufus knows it's important to wash his hands, especially after going to the toilet. It's the best way to keep E.coli at bay. I want to show us how it's done, Rufus. OK, let's go wash, wash, wash your hands, thumbs and fingers to rinse and then make sure they're dry. That's the thing to do.


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