Trudy Nixon, publisher of True Anguilla Magazine talks about the COVID lockdown experience in Anguilla and her hopes for the new season.
As COVID rages around us, Anguilla, our proud, strong and free nation, is now, more than ever, ‘Tranquility Wrapped in Blue’.
Currently we are COVID-free, and the Government of Anguilla (GOA) is determined to keep it this way. Our borders closed in March and will remain so until mid-July – according to the latest statements.
In April, after just over a month of probably the worlds least stressful quarantine/lockdown, we opened back up for business after our three confirmed cases recovered and no further infections were discovered.
My quarantine experience was far from onerous. I was confined to home, where I work anyway, with an allotted 1.5 hours a day for exercise which included walking on our beaches or swimming. I was allowed time to do essential shopping or health visits and even pick up takeaway food! There were no food or TP shortages, as imports were unaffected, and people made hand sanitiser out of fresh aloe and rubbing alcohol when supplies dwindled.
We took the quarantine seriously and are fiercely proud and protective of our COVID-free status.
We now have on-island testing and have a COVID unit set up ready to go but it, like our island, is tiny, and just a few new cases could be cause for concern. Everyday our borders are rigorously surveyed by land and sea to stop anyone deciding to smuggle onto ‘The Rock’. The GOA and other agencies continue to be diligent and effective in their communications.
Talking with friends and family around the world on Skype or Zoom or WhatsApp video I downplay how great it is to be here, because who wants to be mean like that?
Our lifestyle in Anguilla is, it seems, favourable to containing the virus.
Everyone has access to outdoor spaces, the beaches are empty on the whole, most homes have balconies or gardens. Very few people live or work in spaces with no ventilation. Unusually for the Caribbean, there is no public transport – you cannot cram into a route taxi or jump onto a bus – many have their own vehicle. Restaurants and entertainment venues are usually outdoors and spacious – there is no need to be pressed up against anyone unless you choose to. We build big, therefore commercial offices and supermarkets are relatively large. The busiest spots, where infection could lurk, places like the busy banks, government and communications offices, practice social distancing.
Before the borders closed, visitors were given warning to leave. Many decided to stay.
Over the last three months a number of tourists and second homeowners have slowly repatriated to North America and Europe. Often leaving not because the wanted to go, but because they had to go for family or financial reasons and because they were warned that extremely limited repatriation flights were available.
Others made the choice to stay in Anguilla for the entire quarantine and are loving it.
I have met and chatted with guests who are extending their reservations into the upcoming season, so they have a COVID-free home to keep.
Many, many more have tried to get in: people who wanted to quarantine in Anguilla after the borders were closed – but no exceptions have been made. The GOA, quite rightly in my opinion, is taking the time to repatriate overseas Anguillians safely first and get the election over and done with. We must protect our people and the limited healthcare resources here.
But we do need to open our borders sooner rather than later.
We miss our visitors. Anguilla is a tourism-dependent country situated in the most tourism-dependent region in the world. We will not be able to survive without additional money entering the economy soon. Plus we love and need the diversity you bring.
What I would like to see happening when we can open our borders is an increase in guests who commit to staying a little longer. People who could use this extraordinary time to make a positive change in their life and finally live their dream.
I hope we get a bunch of people who decide to relocate here for the season – or longer. With so many of us now able to work from home, why not work from a home in paradise? I and many others can confirm Anguilla is a great place to do business from.
We have an excellent communications infrastructure – there is no need to worry about dropping out of those Zoom meetings.
There are plenty of spacious, beautiful home away from homes with pools, a/c and lots of outdoor space waiting for you to buy or rent. Staying here does not have to break the bank. Yes, we have many luxurious places, but we also have smaller apartments and condo properties with kitchens and everything you need for day-to-day life that would love long stay visitors.
Quarantine in Anguilla has been a little like being here in the summer, my favourite time.
If you are normally a December to April guest, you will experience a different but equally beautiful Anguilla. It’s quieter for sure. There are less tourists on the beaches (but more locals) and lots of picnics. The water is AMAZING. The restaurants are open with limited menu’s and opening hours – but still offering great choice and the local food scene has exploded! You can still take part in many of the activities you love: boat trips, diving and snorkeling, painting parties, golf, tennis, shopping, massage and spa services – basically everything that is normally on offer – just a little paired down.
So why not consider a long stay in Anguilla?
For more information on how Anguilla intends to keep beating COVID visit this excellent website: https://beatcovid19.ai/
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