This Caribbean Island Created the World's Most Exclusive COVID-19 Bubble

Montserrat's digital nomad program requires a stay of two months or more

Woodlands beach
Bob Oliver / Getty Images

Since the pandemic began, remote workers worldwide have taken advantage of the rise of "digital nomad" programs—often in tropical locales—as a way to both avoid the virus and the bummers that come along with a lack of travel and home confinement during lockdown. The way these programs normal function is like this: a country allows travelers to enter, to come and go as they please, and offers them the opportunity to stay for a year or longer, whereas a standard visitor visa might expire after 60 or 90 days. Now, one country has taken this idea and flipped it.

When Montserrat, a mountainous island in the Lesser Antilles, first opened its borders in April 2021, its digital nomad program required a stay of two months or longer. Locked down since March 2020, the country required two weeks of quarantine for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers, along with a negative test at the end, before they were free to explore the country. 

While some other countries have touted the ease of coming to work remotely, Montserrat has made a point to be selective about who joins the program. The country has been requiring applicants to make at least $70,000 a year and pass a background check. So far, 21 families have participated in the program, according to the New York Times. Once there, participants could live an everyday, mask-free existence in the island's restaurants and shops. The program also offered up plenty of privacy, with guests getting to experience empty beaches.

The roughly 5,000 person bubble has remained highly safe for the most part—as of Sept. 15, 33 people had tested positive for the virus in the past 18 months, and the island has seen only one COVID-related death back In April 2020 before tourists were permitted to visit. To date, 23 percent of Montserrat's population is fully vaccinated.

However, if you're ready to pack your bags for an extended Caribbean holiday on secluded beaches, you might have missed the boat. After Oct. 1, the country will permit all vaccinated travelers to enter again, and participants of the program will no longer need to prove vaccination status. Guests will also no longer be required to stay for two weeks at a minimum.