Last updated September 24, 2020
Today’s Status, Looking Towards Spring 2021 — Yellow
We’re happy to see life within Lithuania returning to how things looked last year (with some adjustments). Virus management has been extremely good, but there are still travel limitations to be aware of. As part of the EU, travel here is possible, but not yet for those from the US where active cases are the highest in the world (after adjustment for population). Another element is the school situation — We will have word sometime in November on whether school will be open in January.
Check below to get more details on some key aspects that we’re watching. Each of these components help us determine when we’ll be able to send volunteers to Lithuania again (it’s stuff you’re going to want to know). Also, this info is changing often. Our goal is to keep things current with weekly updates, so check back frequently.
Right now, borders are open but with some restrictions. Lithuania is a part of the EU/Schengen region and current regulations aren’t allowing travelers from highly infected nations, like the United States.
You don’t need a visa to enter Lithuania: all tourists get a 90-day stay. Since your ILP semester is longer than 90 days, volunteers typically leave the country and visit favorite spots like Croatia, Italy, Greece, etc.
Traveling out of the country may be a little tricky depending on the quarantine and border policies of the countries you may want to vacation in. We have more info on this when we talk about travel out of country.
Airports are open! Passenger flights were put on pause since mid-April but resumed in the middle of May, with more and more flights added during the summer months.
The country went on a strict lockdown in March which did a good job curbing infection rates. Since slowly opening up, numbers are still very low — as of September 28th, Lithuania has 74 active cases per 100,000 people.
Quality health care in Lithuania and other nearby countries in the EU is available and the outbreak in Lithuania has not ever reached the point that they were overwhelmed or even full. Reports state that the majority of cases are imported (from travellers from other countries).
Right now, private schools — where ILP teachers teach — are struggling in Lithuania. The strict lockdowns have resulted in huge setbacks for the economy and for private schools. We expect they will be re-opened by January.
Locals have been able to shop, visit parks, enjoy the city square, hang out at cafes and more as life returns back to its new definition of normal. There are some changes to be aware of like events capped at capacity, social distancing, and wearing masks for some activities, just like you’re seeing at home.
Out & About
The country has seen weeks of strict lockdown followed by easing efforts that had businesses, cafes, museums, restaurants, and more opening back up. Wearing a face mask used to be mandatory under lockdown, but now it’s just required if you’re in a closed off space (like while riding public transportation).
In-country travel options are a go, with buses and trains taking people to some of our favorite things to see in Lithuania. Plan on visiting pretty coastal towns, peeking around the famous Hill of Crosses, and spending weekends touring picturesque Old Towns.
Travel between Lithuania and a whole list of countries is currently approved, but is always subject to changes and limitations of Lithuania and your go-to vacation spots.
Some European countries are instituting a quarantine if you’re from a certain country with a high infection rate (like the United States) while others are accepting travelers who have spent a certain amount of time in an approved country. Also, remember that things change quickly, so buying airline tickets to travel to other countries could be risky. Italy or France or any other country could decide to close its borders after a ticket is bought but before the flight departs — that gets expensive! We’ll do our best to work with volunteers who have questions about a country’s current policy.
Okay, now what? Should I still apply for Lithuania?
If you’re thinking “that’s all really good to know, but what does that mean for me?” we have some good news to share: time is still totally on your side.
We’ve seen policies change without notice that have made the difference between us thinking we’ll need to wait longer and helping us determine that a Spring 2021 semester in that location is something we’re pretty optimistic about. Sometimes that has happened in the span of just a couple of weeks or even in a single day. Departures for Spring 2021 are still weeks off and a lot could be decided before departing … and even more could change for Summer 2021 volunteers.
So we say start your application now so that you’re ready when the time comes. We are going to need volunteers who are ready to go right when things change for the better, which is why we think it’s a good idea to have your application in (even if things potentially look uncertain right now). Time really is on your side.
We’re also here for all of your questions. We’d love to talk about deferring to a later semester if things still need more time or finding a country right now that’ll be a good fit for you. You can bet that once things open up, you’ll be the first to know!