Our Approach to COVID-19
Updated November, 2022
We continually monitor the ever-evolving global and regional responses to COVID-19, and in November 2022, removed the requirement for Remote Year participants to be vaccinated against COVID-19, for all programs starting from January 1, 2023. We will continue to ensure that this page and our policies are updated to reflect the most recent COVID-19 responses and developments.
What will remain constant is how seriously we take the safety of our community. We hope that our updated policies and commitment to safeguarding our community will give you the confidence to travel with us when you feel ready.
Our Commitment to Safety
Your safety is paramount to us, which is why we continually evaluate and update our health & safety practices. Our COVID-19 policies ensure the safety of our program participants, staff, and local communities, and reflect the latest safety developments and industry best practices.
As the global COVID landscape changes, so does our approach. All of our program participants are kept up to date with the most current information and local guidelines for each of the destinations we visit. Additionally, we ask for & listen to feedback from the Remote Year community and our local staff concerning any changes that may need to be considered.
From January 1, 2023, Participants and Staff traveling with Remote Year will no longer require vaccination against COVID-19, in addition to any other local restrictions that may apply. For full details, please see the FAQ section below and the Program Policy Page https://www.remoteyear.com/program-policies
Access to Support
We have partnered with International SOS to have up-to-date health and safety information and assistance with medical needs, 24/7 around the globe. We also have a recommended list of hospitals and local clinics for COVID testing or medical care in every destination and may have access to healthcare professionals on-site in some cases.
If a Remote Year program participant is suspected to have contracted COVID-19, our program staff and management team will work together to coordinate support for the individual and community to help minimize any impact for all concerned. Please see details below in the FAQ section.
Do I have to be vaccinated to travel with Remote Year?
If traveling on a program starting before January 1, 2023 yes,participants of Remote Year and Remote Year Services require vaccination against COVID-19.
However, for programs starting from January 1, 2023 there is no requirement for RY Participants or staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Do I have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to be a Member of Remote Year?
No, COVID-19 Vaccination is only required if / when you decide to partake in a Remote Year program.
Do I have to take a COVID-19 test before starting my travels with Remote Year?
This may be needed as part of local entry requirements to a country. We also recommend that you do a test just before traveling so you can be sure you are not infected with COVID-19 but not showing symptoms.
Is there a chance that Remote Year programs will be canceled due to COVID-19, and, if so, what happens to my payments?
While we will do everything in our power to ensure our programs proceed as planned, we know that the global environment requires flexibility. Before canceling a program, we will determine if another routing option that provides an equal experience would be possible and offer this as an alternative. If a program must be canceled, whenever possible, we will do our best to notify you at least 30 days before cancellation. If a program has been canceled, we will work with you to either place you on another program or issue a refund for any payments made to Remote Year.
What if someone gets sick before the program?
If someone receives a positive COVID test prior to arrival, we will either work with them so they can join the program at a later date, or offer credit and work with them to place them on a future program.
What if someone gets sick during the program?
If someone becomes sick despite precautions, we will immediately notify the community and offer access to a private quarantine option to isolate the individual from the rest of the group, if needed. Depending on the specific situation, we have to consider the full context and evaluate the risk levels of transmission to community members. The considered risk level, alongside advice from International SOS, will then determine further swift and appropriate action.The COVID+ individual’s name will be shared with the community so that proper tracing can occur. For the rest of the community on the ground with the COVID+ individual, we will ensure everyone has testing options and conduct a risk assessment for each individual based on a low, medium, and high-risk rating. Low Risk = May continue activities as normal on RY Did not have any close contact with COVID+ person as outlined by the definition of “close contact” above Did have close contact with COVID+ person, and has a professionally administered negative COVID antigen or PCR test produced after risk assessment begins Medium Risk = Must fall into the Low Risk category before they are allowed on RY events or at the RY workspace Had close contact with a COVID+ person and does not have a professionally administered negative COVID antigen or PCR test High Risk = Must quarantine and follow CDC Recommendations outlined below. Has COVID symptoms Has a positive COVID test At the time, we will inform program participants what determines ‘close contact,’ so that proper individual assessments can be made. If any of our program participants potentially contract COVID, we will do our best to make sure they and the Remote Year community are cared for by facilitating any operational & supportive measures that need to be taken. Any costs to do so incurred by Remote Year will be passed on. (i.e. Additional accommodation required to facilitate isolation.) Program participants are responsible for all costs associated with COVID treatment & quarantine, and therefore we highly advise all program participants to obtain travel insurance that would cover this. In the case of suspected COVID within the group, we may ask you to provide proof of a recent negative COVID test to attend any subsequent Remote Year events and access the Remote Year coworking space until we are satisfied the risk level is back to low.
What if a country has different local protocols for testing and isolation?
We must always recognise and follow the guidance and law of any destination we visit. If any country’s local policy is a legal requirement and more stringent, then the local restrictions will be applied, and all Remote Year participants will be expected to comply.
What does it mean to be symptomatic?
If you are not sure what COVID symptoms are, then it can even be as mild as a slightly sore throat, so please don’t ignore any signs. For full details, please see here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
What do we mean by isolation / quarantine?
Both terms mean the same thing, and they mean staying home, and not leaving for any reason (other than in an emergency situation) and not coming into contact with anyone else. This means:
do not go to the workspace, or public places – and work from home
do not go on public transport or use taxis
do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
do not go out to exercise – exercise at home
If ever in doubt, or need help, then please speak to your Community Leader.
If I have to isolate, will I be on my own?
This will depend on the exact situation, and accommodation you are staying in. It may be that you are asked to share accommodation with another person on your program who is also COVID+ at the same time, who you were not already sharing with for that month. You may also need to move accommodation if staying where you are puts your housemates at risk. If additional accommodation is required to facilitate isolation, then RY will help source the accommodation of course,and the cost for which will be chargeable to the COVID+ person.
What happens if I come into contact with someone who is COVID+, but who is not part of the RY program?
We expect you to still comply with all testing & isolation guidance, and let your Community Leader know the situation, as well as precautions you have taken. It is everyone's own responsibility to protect the people around them. RY is not able to take any responsibility or liability for notifying the program of any COVID+ cases, unless that person is participating in the RY program, or has provided a service to the program as instructed by RY (eg. Local Experience vendors).
What if I don’t follow the RY COVID policy?
Our policy is formed to provide safety for the community, while trying to minimize the impact on experience. By not complying with the RY COVID-19 policy, and any other advice from RY at the time, we consider this to be against community values as you may be putting other people at risk, and this is therefore a breach of the RY Code of Conduct. We operate zero tolerance with any clear breach of the Code of Conduct, and so by not following the RY COVID policy you will be asked to leave the RY program as per Section 3.1 of the RY Terms & Conditions.
Is it common that someone gets COVID while on Remote Year?
No, it does not happen often, but it has happened before. In the cases that it has occurred, the COVID positive member recovered without any issues and the community was able to finish their experience safely and happily.
Will Remote Year pay for COVID tests?
No, but we do everything we can to make testing simple. The costs for any tests taken between destinations or any additional tests needed if COVID is suspected within the group are to be paid by individual program participants and are not covered by Remote Year. Tests in most of our cities will vary from $25-$100 depending on if you would like an antigen or PCR test. We advise you to speak to your Travel Insurance company if you would like to reclaim any such costs.
Do I need travel insurance to participate?
Yes, we believe this is necessary to protect each program participant, and, in some instances, is required by some local governments. Travel and Health insurance, which covers COVID-19 related issues, is readily available and affordable. Remote Year can help connect you with a provider with options. You will be asked for proof of appropriate insurance before departure.
I have to get tested before flying to my next destination. Is there a test option nearby?
Yes, Remote Year will have testing options for those that need it in each destination so that the whole process is as seamless as possible. Often this can be booked via the Remote Year Marketplace. Details on how to do this will be provided at the appropriate time.
Is COVID-19 a factor in what destinations Remote Year decides to visit?
Yes, before selecting a destination, we look at a variety of factors related to safety and security, as well as the experience we can deliver for our community. We have seen that things can change with COVID, so if we believe the experience in one of our destinations will be compromised, or if the safety of our community is at an increased risk, we will implement one of our predetermined backup plans, which vary for any given situation and program.
What sources of information are you using to inform your decisions?
We are working tirelessly to monitor and evolve our approach to COVID using the guidance of our safety and security partner, International SOS, and the local government for each destination.
What if new local restrictions are imposed on a destination?
If new local restrictions are placed on a destination, we will work with our on-the-ground team and safety advisors to determine the full impact of the new restrictions. If it is determined that these restrictions have too great an impact on our program experience or the overall safety of our community, we would either cancel the program or offer an alternative destination.
What happens if the local Remote Year staff contract COVID-19?
We follow the same protocol with our staff as we do for Remote Year program participants. We ensure that our staff has a place to isolate and medical attention if needed, and we provide relevant support from the Remote Year staff to ensure minimal or no disruption to the program.