Last updated May 14, 2021

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Fall 2021 — Blue

The EU is reviewing a plan to let vaccinated travelers from the US enter EU countries starting this summer. Child Protection Services is indicating a good probability that vaccinated volunteers will be able to enter the orphanage then as well. With this news, we are extremely optimistic and making plans for a Fall 2021 semester in Romania! They’ve told us they’re anxious to have our volunteers back because they’re so helpful, and have strict guidelines set in place to protect the children.  

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 Romania again (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

Only citizens of certain countries may enter (which currently does not include the US), and are able to bypass the quarantine if they are vaccinated. However, Americans are still not allowed to enter Romania (except for certain conditions which doesn’t include tourism).

The President of the EU commission stated late April 2021 that she was sure vaccinated travelers from the U.S. would be welcomed by Summer 2021. No dates or official details were given, but we are very optimistic for a Fall 2021 program.

ILP volunteers don’t need visas prior to departure to Romania so we’re not waiting on that.

All airports in Romania are currently open. The government has eased commercial flight and travel restrictions to countries with documented COVID-19 case reductions. Popular airlines like TAROM and Wizz Air have resumed itineraries to a handful of popular regional destinations, with daily flights to cities in Romania + throughout Europe.

Daily Life

Case numbers in Romania have been really up and down (especially after lockdown) when measures started lifting in the middle of May. There has been a recent uptick in cases since the middle of June that has slowed down. Currently, Romania has one of the most successful vaccination-campaigns in the European Union.

As of May 13th, Romania reports 10.44 active cases per 100,000 which is much lower than the US average. However, there is some uncertainty about reliability of reported numbers because of limitations of the healthcare system and cultural limitations on testing reliability. That all just adds another layer of detail which helps our decision making process.

CPS has indicated a willingness to allow vaccinated volunteers who follow strict Covid safety measures to work with the orphanage when the EU countries open borders to vaccinated travelers entering EU countries. This is expected to happen by early summer. 

There will be more strict rules about wearing masks, changing scrubs, mandatory covid testing for symptoms of any illness, and some travel parameters. (We have more info on what travel may look like in another section).

Locals are able to shop, visit cafes, hang out in parks, spend time in some museums, etc. There are some restrictions like limited capacity for indoor dining, but things are looking really good as far as daily life and activities go. 

Out & About

Activities are closely monitored and accessibility does depend on the current virus trends. Lately, the country has been imposing restrictions in regions based on their Covid-19 incident rate — for example, in regions where there are 4 cases for every 1,000 people in a 14 day span, all gyms are closed. For localities with a 7.5 / 1,000 incident rate, there is a stricter quarantine.

The Government of Romania announced additional restrictions that will remain in place until May 12th (which may be extended): Masks are mandatory nationwide in all indoor and outdoor public areas, all schools are online, public and private parties are banned, stores are only open until 9:00 PM (with the exception of pharmacies, gas stations, and food delivery services). There is also a nightly curfew in place, from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. 

While the general public is observing health and safety standards, it’s vitally important that volunteers are strictly adhering to all preventative measures to help protect your health and the health of the kids you’re volunteering with. Volunteers will have to strictly practice social distancing, wear masks, submit to temperature checks, and follow travel restrictions during their semester.

If things stay the same once our volunteers are back in Romania, you can plan on traveling all around this pretty country. Some of our favorite spots in all of Europe are hiding in Romania!

Think about exploring castles on the weekend and experiencing some of the best hiking in this part of the world. Romania is full of tiny mountain villages, charming cobblestone streets, glittering Black Sea vacations, cafes galore, and more than a few of the prettiest towns we’ve ever seen. Just take a peek at the ILP blog if you need ideas on where to vacation.

Romania’s Child Protective Services will likely not allow anyone in the orphanage if they have traveled internationally. There is a possibility that out-of-country travel will be allowed with a short self-isolation following the travel, or at the end of the semester after service at the orphanage has ended but it is yet to be determined.

The good news though is that Romania is incredibly charming and tourists (and even ILP volunteers) typically overlook this gem of a country. There is so much to explore here and you’ll get to see and do so much more than volunteers who leave the country get to do. Our blog is full of ideas that will keep your vacation plans full.

Okay, now what?  Should I still apply for Romania

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 a 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. A lot could change for Fall 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!