Dominican Republic

Last updated January 14, 2021

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Spring 2021 — Green

After borders opening and tourism growing in the DR again, we are happy to announce that ILP volunteers will be returning for a Spring 2021 semester.

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 to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Beginning in September, randomly selected travelers are subject to a COVID-19 breath test, instead of presenting a negative test-upon-arrival. Before departure, all travelers will need to fill out a Traveler’s Health Affidavit which states you haven’t experienced symptoms in the last 72 hours. 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. American Airlines and Delta are just two airlines that have added more itineraries to airports in the Dominican Republic.

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 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 January 14th, the nation reports 410.5 active cases per 100,000 people.

We’ve been in close contact with our friends in the Dominican Republic and have been told that all schools in ILP areas will be open for online classes only starting in November, with no in-person teaching. We are preparing for schools to still be closed for the Spring 2021 semester and are planning to teach in non-school locations. Right now, that looks like teaching in very small groups (1-3 children) outside individual children’s homes or in spaces at the ILP apartment building. 

We’re expecting that this development of a “home” teaching program will be a better experience for both the volunteers and the children than the pre-Covid classroom experience. Classes will be smaller which is better suited to handle behavior issues plus volunteers will be able to get to know their students better.

Many tourist sites are open, which means resorts, 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. Most restaurants are open too, with takeout and delivery available for some. This will all go a long ways in getting the economy moving again.

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, but aren’t as strict (they are now from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM on weekdays, and 7:00 PM until 5:00 AM on weekends). 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 also open, so look forward to hanging out on Sosua, Comtanbar, 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 a Spring 2021 semester. If you’re looking to apply for a later 2021 semester 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.