Last updated July 31, 2020
Today’s Status, Looking Towards Fall 2020 — Blue
We’re still optimistic that we’ll be able to start back up as early as Fall 2020, we’re just waiting on some policy changes regarding non-EU travelers. Many European countries are allowing travelers from select countries (where reported virus cases are down) and Montenegro is just starting to follow suit. When the country opened to tourism in mid-June, there was a temporary increase in cases. The government implemented restrictions on certain businesses and public activities which led to a decrease in the number of new cases within three weeks. We are hoping that this trend continues.
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 Montenegro 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, Montenegro is one of the European countries allowing only travelers from lower-infected countries to enter. Naturally, the US, which has the highest number of cases worldwide, isn’t on the general EU list, but fortunately, some countries are allowing US travelers. Travelers who have been in Canada the last 15 days before arrival are allowed to enter, however.
The approved country list is determined by the number of active cases found in that country per 100,000 people. Montenegro is currently only allowing visitors from countries that have 25 active cases / 100,000 residents.
However, Montenegro is basing entry on where you’re coming from, not your nationality. Potentially, ILP volunteers traveling from the US could be allowed entry if they first spent 15 days in an approved European country before entering Montenegro. We are evaluating the feasibility of that option and will be posting updates.
You don’t need a visa to enter Montenegro: all tourists get a 90-day stay. Since your ILP semester is longer than 90 days, volunteers typically leave the country and visit nearby spots like Croatia, Italy, Greece, etc.
We get to vacations later, but 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 to. We’re carefully watching which countries have restrictions for US passport holders, versus countries in Europe who are more concerned with where you have been traveling recently.
Montenegro’s two airports (Podgorica and Tivat) have been open since June 1st for international flights.
This little country initially handled the virus exceptionally well, declaring it was officially Coronavirus-free on May 25th.
However, as tourism reopened, there has been a recent uptick in case numbers, reaching 287 cases per 100,000 population (as of August 4th). That’s not a trend we’re thrilled about, but Montenegro has been able to quickly reduce case numbers in the past, so we’re still optimistic. The Prime Minister reinstated a curfews for two regions, starting June 25th and announced new restrictions on July 22nd to help slow the spread. We’re watching to see if infection numbers have plateaued, and early signs point towards new restrictions working, but it’s still a bit too early to tell.
Schools opened early summer, but with the recent uptick in cases, public kindergartens have been closed. The school where ILP volunteers teach at is a private center and because of ILP’s small-group style of teaching, teaching may be able to continue even if public schools and kindergartens are closed. This all depends on the details of the restrictions at the time.
Beaches, stores, and tourist sites are all generally open which means you can soak up the best of what this coastal city has to offer. The public is required to wear face masks on all public transport and in other enclosed spaces (shops, banks, etc), which should sound pretty familiar when compared to the parameters in place in the US.
Out & About
A July 22nd announcement outlined that wearing protective masks outdoors and indoors is mandatory throughout Montenegro, except on beaches and in national parks (if physical distancing regulations are followed).
Things are looking good for bus routes and taxis to some of our favorite places in Montenegro. Think about spending weekends and vacation time exploring dozens of beaches, taking mountain hikes to glacial lakes, and photographing ancient monasteries hiding in the cliffside.
Right now, travel to some European countries from Montenegro is being restricted. In mid-July, Montenegro was removed from the EU approved travel list, meaning those countries are no longer allowing entry to passengers from Montenegro (due to rising virus cases).
As it stands now, potential ILP volunteers would be able to travel in-country and may be able to vacation to other countries (out of the EU) depending on infection rates and current tourist restrictions. For example, Poland, Austria, and Italy currently allow travelers from Montenegro.
This policy could change depending on what happens with the virus the next few weeks, so keep an eye on this section for vacation updates.
Okay, now what? Should I still apply for Montenegro?
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 Fall 2020 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 Fall 2020 are still weeks off and a lot could be decided before departing … and even more could change for Spring 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!