Last updated October 13, 2021

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Spring 2022 — Yellow

We’re hearing good things from our local friends who are living in and traveling around Russia, but right now there are limitations about foreigners crossing borders and entering the country. Airports opened recently to some countries and Russian consulates in the US began processing visas in August 2020 after being closed for months, but then quickly closed again. Visa processing has remained closed until the time of the last update.

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 Russia 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.

Getting There

Russia has opened to travellers from many countries including the U.S. However, the type of visas needed for ILP volunteers are still not being processed (see below).

Russian consulates have started processing some visas but there are a limited number of consulates. The visas needed for ILP volunteers are still not being processed.

Flights are opening again … kind of. For now, only selected categories of people are allowed into Russia.

Daily Life

Testing in Moscow and other urban centers is robust and widely available, with workers in some industries having mandatory regular testing. The healthcare system in urban centers is good, with private hospitals offering good quality care.

As of October 13, Russia has 497.7 active cases per 100,000. Russia hit its highpoint for cases in January, then dropped, but we are now seeing a sharp uptick of infections classified as a third wave. It’s been announced that mass testing will begin in major Russian cities — Hopefully numbers begin to decrease soon. (It’s important to remember that Russia’s number of cases per 100,000 is still a fraction of the situation in the United States.)

All Moscow school children returned to in-person classes on January 18th.

We’ve seen a series of openings throughout this past year, with some closures as numbers have spiked. Though there has been a resurgence of cases, Moscow’s museums, cultural centers, and libraries reopened, just at limited capacity (which is the case for theaters, cinemas, and concert halls). 

Due to the spike in cases centered around Moscow, restaurants now have an 11:00 PM curfew, food courts in shopping malls are closed, and workers are encouraged to stay home.  There are also talks of recommending that entry to mass events be dependent on QR codes that declare your vaccination status.

Out & About

Just like at home, there are some precautions to take even though lots of aspects of life have opened right back up, especially for vaccinated citizens. There are also discussions of mandatory vaccinations for anyone in the service industry (from transport to restaurants), and/or mandatory testing every 72 hours for pilots, flight attendants, etc. 

Masks, social distancing, and limiting capacity are all things you’ll run into on a visit to Russia right now, especially since there has been an uptick of cases (more and more provinces are reintroducing Covid precautions after being temporarily lifted).

We have heard great things from our local friends about travel in Russia, with a handful of our Local Coordinators traveling around the resort towns, enjoying beach days, and visiting some of our favorite spots in Russia. There are some unique twists to some areas, like the “Covid-Free beach in Sochi”, where all visitors must prove they are vaccinated before entering. 

Right now, inner-country flights, train trips, and bus rides are all a go. You can soak up everything from dreamy mountain lakes to sandy beach towns, plus all of our go-to cities in this huge country!

As things stand now (and the direction Russia is moving), if we were able to send volunteers, they would likely need to stay in Russia for their semester. Plan on a seaside resort trip to sunny Sochi, falling head over heels in love with St. Petersburg, and soaking up the European charm of Kaliningrad. Nizhny Novgorod isn’t to be missed either — same with charming towns along the Golden Ring. There’s a lot to see in Russia, that’s for sure. 

Okay, now what?  Should I still apply for Russia

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 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 be decided before Spring 2022. 

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!