Our Approach to COVID-19
UPDATED Aug 1, 2022
This page outlines the steps we are taking to keep our community safe. In March 2020, we made the extremely difficult decision to pause and postpone current programs due to COVID-19. Since then, we have worked closely with our safety & security partner, International SOS, to determine the best way to resume travel in a way that keeps our customers, staff, and the local communities we live alongside safe. In March 2021, we have been carefully and successfully rebuilding our travel programs across Latin America and most recently Europe.
During this time, we made several key changes:
Revamped our booking policies to be as flexible as possible
Updated our operating procedures to follow all local and global guidelines
Challenged ourselves to go above and beyond local and global recommendations by creating our own guidelines to safeguard our community.
We continually monitor the ever-evolving global and regional responses to COVID-19. In light of months of practical learnings on the ground, then December 2021, we have further updated our policies surrounding vaccination and FAQs below. 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.
Book with Confidence
We introduced very flexible policies to allow customers to be able to change relatively last minute during the first years of the pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic is thankfully having less of an impact on global travel, we are still offering flexibility to change your plans, but changes will now incur a fee if you change more than once, or if 60 days or less from the original program start date. Please refer to our Payment Policies for full details.
From the end of October 2021, all participants and staff traveling with Remote Year are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, in addition to any other local restrictions that may apply.
While at present we do not require a COVID-19 ‘booster’, this may be required to enter certain destinations, even if as means to prevent quarantine on arrival. Ultimately, it is the participant’s responsibility to check and adhere to the vaccination status requirements for each destination.If a participant does need to quarantine on arrival due to their vaccination status, any cost and organization to facilitate the quarantine will be the responsibility of the participant, though where possible we will try to support with logistics. Remote Year will not offer any refund of program fees if quarantine prevents someone from accessing the Remote Year services and platform. We do not currently accept proof of COVID-19 recovery in lieu of proof of vaccination.
For full details, please see the FAQ section below and the Program Policy Page.
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?
Yes, from October 2021 all participants of Remote Year and Remote Year Services require vaccination against COVID-19. Please see section 6.1 of Program Policy here
Do I need a COVID-19 ‘booster’ to travel with Remote Year?
At present, we do not require a booster to participate, however, boosters may be an entry requirement to some countries and may also be a requirement to prevent quarantine on arrival. Each country we travel to have different rules around this, we are in constant change, as each country adapts.
I am exempt from vaccination, can I still travel?
Given the risk posed to our customers and participants, and to the local community in which we host Remote Year programs, Remote Year has decided the fairest and most responsible policy given the risks from an individual contracting COVID-19 is not to allow exemptions from its vaccination requirement for any reason at this time.
Why did you introduce the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy?
As a travel company which facilitates the movement of groups of people around the world, we are always mindful of how to deliver the best experience to those who choose to travel with us, while ensuring we are respectful, fair, and responsible to the communities into which we travel.
Since we have started operating in LatAm and Europe since March 2021, we have observed first hand the negative impact to people’s experiences from even just one Remote Year participant contracting COVID-19.
On a broader level, there is increasing research showing the effectiveness of vaccines on preventing the transmission of COVID-19, as well as reduced symptoms for those who have been vaccinated, thereby resulting in reduced need for medical assistance.
Although we respect an individual’s choice to make health decisions for themselves, we are firmly committed to protecting our customers and the local communities in which we host our programs. It is through this lens that we have decided to update our policy regarding COVID-19 vaccination requirements to travel with us.
We are not suggesting that people must get vaccinated to travel. Vaccination is a personal choice, which we fully respect.
Do I have to take a COVID-19 test before starting my travels with Remote Year?
In line with our change in vaccination requirement, this is not something which we ask for. However, 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 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 negative COVID antigen or PCR test
High Risk = Must quarantine and follow CDC Recommendations outlined below.
Has COVID symptoms
Has a positive COVID test
All of this information is shared with each group as part of an online webinar before the program and in person when the group is together at the first destination. At the time of a potential COVID+ case within the group, we will also remind everyone of what to do, including 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 recognize 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.
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 $5-$100 depending on if you would like an at home antigen test, administered antigen test, or administered PCR test.
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, including things like additional accommodation during or after your program dates, flight changes, is readily available and affordable. Remote Year can help connect you with a provider with options, please make sure you understand the extent of your coverage before purchasing. 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?
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.