Last updated July 31, 2020
Today’s Status, Looking Towards Fall 2020 — Blue
Nicaragua has not been hit as hard as many Central American countries. The virus has taken its toll, but other factors (like fewer international travelers before the virus) have been an advantage for this particular Humanitarian Program. While the government has been very relaxed on requiring any restrictions and reporting on COVID-19 cases, that’s not the case socially. The people here have taken it upon themselves to be responsible to help manage the virus in an attempt to avoid what is happening in nearby Central American countries. Travel here is possible, but we’re being cautious about reopening a program here until there’s more concrete information.
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 Nicaragua again (it’s stuff you’re going to want to know). Also, this info changes often. Our goal is to keep things current with weekly updates, so check back frequently.
More info coming soon — we’ll be sure to update you when we have more details.
You don’t need a visa to enter Nicaragua, so that’s something we don’t have to worry about waiting for.
In March, many US airlines suspended flights to Nicaragua. Flights and entry policies into Nicaragua (which were supposed to open in July) have been pushed back until September 1st. It could be pushed back again depending on the spread of the virus. We’ll keep this page updated as we hear more.
The virus trends in Nicaragua are proving tricky to track, and we have had to rely on local contacts who are there as well as some NGOs committed to monitoring the virus (who are relying on contributions from many volunteer healthcare workers and private citizens).
There’s a lack of testing capabilities so the reports are mostly estimated based on information from other countries and the observed hospitalization rates. Managua (the capital city) was hit the hardest, while Granada (where ILP volunteers live) has not reached the same levels. The main hospitals that ILP volunteers use have not exceeded capacity.
From what’s being reported, Nicaragua falls into the “blue” zone, according to International SOS, meaning there are a moderate number of new cases per day and/or there is a decreasing trend in case numbers for a period of two weeks.
Because the country did not institute a lockdown, public schools have been in session and that’s looking like it will continue. However, the educational center where ILP volunteers teach in Granada was closed in March voluntarily by the foundation that runs it. The center has changed its plans to open on August 1st, and are currently uncertain when they will re-open. Potentially, it’s planned for some time in September.
We’re waiting to hear how daily life is functioning here, thanks for hanging tight.
Out & About
The government is now recognizing the virus as a health threat and some restrictions from the government have been put in place. Previously there were no government-mandated restrictions and only socially-imposed self-restrictions.
In-country travel is allowed, but will be considered on a case by case basis (which has been the situation for past semesters). We’re hopeful some of the same adventures and activities will be available for upcoming volunteers, like visits to colorful markets, volcano trekking, hiking in thick jungles, and soaking up time on Nicaragua’s beautiful beaches.
ILP volunteers usually travel around Nicaragua during their semester, and love to visit Panama and Costa Rica. We’ll be taking a peek at what things are like in Panama and Costa Rica as things get closer.
Okay, now what? Should I still apply for Nicaragua?
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!