Dominican Republic

Last updated July 9, 2021

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Fall 2021 — Green

After borders opening and tourism growing in the DR again, we are happy to announce that ILP volunteers are here for a Summer 2021 semester. We anticipate having a Fall 2021 semester here as well.

Check below to get more details on some key aspects that we’re watching (it’s stuff you’re going to want to know). Also, this info can change often. Our goal is to keep things current with weekly updates, so check back frequently.

Getting There

Borders are open, with flights and tourism returning to the island on July 1st — a really happy update, since borders closed in the middle of March 2020 to help prevent the spread of the virus. As of May, travelers are no longer required to provide a negative test upon entry.  Instead, aleatory breath tests will be administered to between 3-15% of travelers arriving at airports or other ports of entry. Tourists can also plan on temperature checks upon arrival.

Everyone entering will need to get their temperature checked — Passengers who present symptoms or whose test results are positive will be isolated at authorized locations.

No visa is required for visitors or ILP volunteers, so that’s a go!

Flights aren’t an issue, with many airlines reporting more and more flights to this island nation. Plan on new changes like having your temperature checked before/after getting on the plane and wearing a face mask on your flight.

Daily Life

In neighborhoods where volunteers live, the virus (which seemed much higher than reported cases earlier) seems to have peaked and is declining. In the DR, we watch both the official numbers reported by the government as well as information from our Local Coordinators about what they are observing and information they receive from contacts in the healthcare system in their area.

As of July 9th, the nation reports 512.2 active cases per 100,000 people.

We’ve had a group of volunteers here since the Spring 2021 semester. You can get a glimpse into what living, teaching, and even traveling is like during their semester here, on the ILP takeover.

All schools in ILP areas are closed and only are offering online classes (which started in November, with no in-person teaching). We have made arrangements to teach in non-school locations. Right now, volunteers are  teaching small groups of children outside the homes of families in the neighborhood or in spaces at the ILP apartment building. Unless things change, we anticipate this being the situation for Summer 2021 as well.

In many ways, this development of a “home” teaching program has  been a better experience for both the volunteers and the children than the pre-Covid classroom experience. Classes are smaller which is better suited to handle behavior issues plus volunteers are  able to get to know their students better.

Many tourist sites are open, which means resorts, restaurants, beaches, and snorkel tours. Stores and businesses are open and the strict curfew has been removed. 

Daily activities, like public transportation, are getting back to normal which is good news for locals and incoming tourists. Having gua-guas up and running is another perk for an ILP semester — they’re the best way to get around to the nearby beaches. As a note, we’re only allowing private gua-guas so ILP volunteers can travel together, and avoid the public gua-guas which tend to be overcrowded and potentially lead to a much greater risk of exposure to the virus.

Out & About

Hotels have been opened for tourists since the beginning of July, with parameters in place like temperature checks when you check in. Tour agencies are also following safety and protocols like maintaining 50% capacity on snorkel tours and other island adventures.  Public transportation is running, just at reduced capacity with adjusted schedules. Plan on respecting the maximum group size (10).

The curfew hours are still in place in some areas of the island. In Puerto Plata, the curfew is from 10:00 PM until 5:00 AM during weekends and 9:00 PM until 5:00 PM during the week. During curfew, you are to remain indoors.  

It is mandatory to continue social distancing and wear face masks in all public spaces, such as banks, supermarkets and offices, etc.

There are a few things that have restricted hours or reduced capacity, but the island adventures you love are all open for tourism. Resorts are open, the Treehouse Village is open, adventures around Jarabacoa are all a go, and so are both 27 Waterfalls and Dudu Lagoon. Nearby beaches that ILP volunteers love are open, so look forward to hanging out on Sosua, Costambar, Puerto Plata, Playa Alicia, and more.

Typically, ILP volunteers have so much to explore in the Dominican Republic they don’t leave the country. Some island hopping to other countries might be a possibility, but we think you’d rather find your favorite local beach, go horseback riding to waterfalls, spend Saturdays snorkeling and trek through the jungle — all of that (and more) can be done without ever leaving the DR.

Can I still apply for the Dominican Republic?

Absolutely! We’re so thrilled to have volunteers here for the past couple of semesters. If you’re looking to apply for Fall 2021 or even semesters in 2022, now is a great time for that too! We’d recommend applying ASAP to help you get a spot in this country (it’s a popular one). 

We are so excited for volunteers to be back in the Dominican Republic! 

What is traveling and living in the DR like right now? 

For the Dominican Republic, things have slowly been opening back up both for domestic and international tourism. It’s a good sign that international tourism has been going so well since the country opened up. We’re seeing similar precautions you’re taking at home (like wearing a mask and social distancing). Just like there is a risk to go out in Utah right now, there will be risks to traveling anywhere, including the Dominican Republic.