Frequently Asked Questions
We appreciate the trust you place in our teams, both nationally and internationally when you participate in our programs. Please review the following frequently asked questions for more information about how we are responding to COVID-19 and how we are preparing for the re-opening of in-person brigade operations.
For additional information, please refer to the following resources:
- Center for Disease Control COVID-19 Travel Guidance
- State Department COVID-19 Traveler Information
- Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center
- World Health Organization
- New York Times COVID-19 FAQ
- Government of Canada Coronavirus Information
For country-specific COVID-19 information including entry requirements/restrictions, please visit the following US Embassy websites:
- US Embassy in Ghana
- US Embassy in Greece
- US Embassy in Guatemala
- US Embassy in Honduras
- US Embassy in Nicaragua
- US Embassy in Panama
For real-time COVID-19 data in each country, please visit the following Reuters COVID-19 Tracker pages:
What is GB's assessment process in deciding when to resume operations in a country?
Global Brigades has developed stringent criteria which need to be met prior to the resumption of brigade operations in a particular country. These criteria were developed by a committee made up of Global Brigades’ leadership team and in-country executive directors and operations staff, using a variety of resources including travel guidelines from the State Department and local US consulates as well as in-country business reopening guidelines and guidelines imposed by local governmental bodies. These criteria include but are not limited to:
- Lifting of entry restrictions for international travelers.
- Lifting of any mandatory quarantine requirements upon arrival for international travelers.
- Resumption of normal daily international flights from major carriers.
- Local lockdown measures and restrictions on movement have been lifted.
- COVID testing is widely available.
- Local hospital and ICU capacities.
- Normal tourist activities have resumed locally.
- Vaccines are widely available for participating volunteers, to comply with vaccination requirement for participation.
What additional precautions are being taken in light of Covid-19 to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and community members?
Global Brigades is taking a number of precautions to mitigate the risks of COVID transmission on brigade programs, including but not limited to the following:
- Operating all in-country programs at very limited capacity and observing these capacity limits for all transportation and lodging.
- Periodic COVID testing and health screening of all brigade staff.
- All brigades must arrive on Sundays and depart on Saturdays to limit overlap between volunteer groups, and allow for sanitizing of facilities and vehicles between groups.
- Imposing mandatory mask/face covering requirements for all brigade participants, staff and community members.
- Observing social distancing measures at all brigade sites, including lodging facilities and community sites.
- All participants must take a COVID test prior to their departure and provide proof of a negative test to their airline and to Global Brigades before traveling.
- Daily health screening.
- Daily temperature checks.
- Staggered meal service to limit capacity.
- Daily sanitizing of all vehicles and lodging facilities.
- Enhanced precautions on brigade days: health screening of community members, sanitizing of community sites, social distancing guidelines, and mandatory use of PPE.
Will I need to obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to my participation in a brigade?
Yes, to comply with entry requirements, all participants will need to obtain proof of a negative COVID test prior to departure for your brigade. The testing requirements vary based on the destination, as follows:
Honduras: Global Brigades requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or Antigen) taken within 72 hours prior to traveling to Honduras. Vaccinated travelers entering Honduras are required to provide the original vaccination certificate documenting complete COVID-19 vaccination (two doses of most vaccines; one dose of Johnson & Johnson) with at least 14 days after receipt of the final dose upon entry into the country.
Panama: The Government of Panama requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or Antigen) administered within 48 hours prior to traveling to Panama.
Ghana: Individuals arriving in Ghana by air must present a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted by an accredited laboratory in the country of origin not more than 72 hours prior to departure. Additionally, upon arrival, each traveler age five and over must undergo a temperature screening and COVID-19 test conducted at the airport. The test carries a $150 fee per person. Travelers MUST pay the fee online before departure at https://myfrontierhealthcare.com/Home/Ghana and present proof of payment to the airline prior to boarding.
Guatemala: All passengers arriving in Guatemala must present evidence of either a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, COVID-19 vaccine completed at least two weeks before arrival, or recovery from COVID-19 within three months of arrival (Global Brigades participants are required to be vaccinated.)
Greece: All travelers over the age of five must present a negative PCR test for entry. Travelers who have proof they have completed COVID-19 vaccination at least 14 days prior to arrival in Greece are not required to present proof of a negative PCR test upon entry to the country. Global Brigades requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to traveling to Greece.
Will I need to quarantine upon entry to the country (Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Greece, Ghana)?
No, provided you have obtained proof of a negative COVID test which has been administered at least 72 hours prior to your departure (48 hours for Panama) or present proof of vaccination (if accepted), and you do not present with any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 upon arrival.
In the event that you arrive at the airport with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and within the last 14 days have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or traveled to a country with confirmed cases, you may be isolated in a medical center or at a designated hotel for monitoring by the Ministry of Health for up to 14 days. This is dictated by the local Ministry of Health.
For Canadian Volunteers: Per the requirements established by the Government of Canada, all individuals returning to Canada are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon re-entry.
Will Global Brigades require me to get the vaccine prior to my participation in a brigade?
Yes. Based on the advice of several physicians we have consulted, at this time Global Brigades is asking that all volunteers who wish to participate in an in-person brigade receive their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccination at least 2 weeks prior to traveling on the brigade. Please visit CDC Vaccines for COVID-19 and VaccineFinder for more information on the vaccine and where to get it. Non-US volunteers should check with their local healthcare providers.
In the event that a volunteer cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to their chapter’s in-person brigade, volunteers are encouraged to participate in a TeleBrigade or begin planning for a brigade in 2022, when vaccines may be more widely available to our in-country partners.
What is the protocol if a volunteer presents symptoms of COVID-19 while on brigade? What insurance coverage do they have?
In the event that a volunteer presents symptoms of COVID-19 while on the brigade, they will be separated and quarantined at the lodging facility and monitored by a local staff health care professional, while a COVID test can be arranged for. Upon consultation by a local physician if the symptoms are mild, the volunteer will remain quarantined and under observation at their lodging facility. If the symptoms are serious and the volunteer is at higher risk of complication due to pre-existing conditions, they will be transported to a medical facility in the capital city as recommended by their treating physician. The duration of quarantine will last between 10-14 days depending on severity and the recommendations of the medical team.
All volunteer participants are automatically covered under emergency medical travel insurance for the duration of their program as well as COVID-19 specific trip interruption insurance, and have the option to upgrade the emergency medical travel insurance policy limits for an additional fee. The emergency medical travel insurance policy covers medical expenses for emergency medical treatment related to a diagnosis of COVID-19, and the COVID-19 trip interruption insurance covers certain costs associated with mandatory quarantine in the case that a volunteer tests positive for COVID-19 in-country. Visit this page for more information on the emergency medical travel insurance that GB volunteers are automatically enrolled in, and for information on increasing coverage.
Volunteers wishing to secure additional travel insurance coverage through 3rd party providers can find available options on Square Mouth.
What is the protocol if a community member presents symptoms of COVID-19 during the brigade?
All community members at the brigade site will be pre-screened for COVID-19. Any individuals which present symptoms or have had recent contact with individuals who have tested positive will not be able to enter the brigade site. Participating community members will be required to practice social distancing and wear masks while interacting with staff and volunteers.
Is Global Brigades going to provide PPE for volunteers and community members? Do we need to bring masks/equipment with us?
Yes, Global Brigades will have PPE (masks and gloves) available for volunteer participants as well as community members. However to ensure these resources are plentiful we would also encourage all volunteers to bring their own supplies of PPE, particularly masks and face shields.
Will I need to obtain a negative test in order to re-enter the United States at the conclusion of my brigade?
Yes, on January 12, 2021, the CDC announced an Order requiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to present the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight.
Global Brigades’ local teams will facilitate all testing for volunteers prior to departure at the end of the brigade.
For more detailed information, please visit the CDC’s webpage detailing this requirement.
Will I need to obtain a negative test in order to re-enter the United States even if I have been fully vaccinated?
Yes, at this time all air passengers traveling to the US, regardless of vaccination or antibody status, are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery.
What happens if my brigade is postponed due to COVID-19?
In the case that Global Brigades determines that criteria have still not been met in order to restart in-person brigade programs, your Program Associate will work closely with you to provide options on rescheduling your brigade, either to an in-person brigade at a later date or switching to a virtual brigade program (TeleBrigade). In the case that your chapter had previously been issued flight tickets, your Travel Team Member will work with you to request a flight credit or flight voucher from the airline, which can be applied towards purchasing a flight for a future brigade. Flight credits and vouchers are subject to policies and regulations as established by the airline.
Will there be additional fundraising required for brigades due to COVID-19?
Yes. At this time, Global Brigades is asking all chapters to contribute to a group donation goal that will cover the costs of the COVID-19 trip interruption insurance, mandatory COVID-19 testing that will be required prior to your departure home at the end of your brigade, and PPE for volunteers, staff, and community members. Your Program Associate will add the group donation amount to your chapter’s MyBrigades page.
What happens if I test positive and am delayed in returning home at the conclusion of the brigade?
In the event a volunteer tests positive for COVID during their program, causing a delay in returning to their home country, Global Brigades’ in-country teams will provide full support (arrange lodging, transportation, meals) for the duration of the delay (or quarantine period) until the volunteer is cleared to safely return home.
If a volunteer is asymptomatic and tests positive for COVID within the 3-day period before they are set to return home, Global Brigades’ local staff physician will assess the volunteer to determine if they have any underlying COVID symptoms. If they are deemed healthy, an additional PCR test will be administered to confirm the positive result. While waiting for secondary test results, the volunteer will be kept isolated at the Global Brigades facility, while being continuously cared for by staff. If the assigned physician determines that the initial test was a false positive, and the volunteer is medically cleared to fly, Global Brigades will work with the airline to arrange for a return flight home.
In the event that a volunteer tests positive with a mild or asymptomatic case of COVID, as assessed by Global Brigades’ local staff physician, they will need to quarantine for a period of 10-14 days, as mandated by the local Ministry of Health. During the mandatory quarantine, the volunteer will be housed in a hotel room arranged for by Global Brigades, and regularly monitored by a local physician. Global Brigades’ in-country staff will ensure that the volunteer’s needs are taken care of, including arranging all meals, transportation, and communication with emergency contacts. While the volunteer will need to remain isolated in quarantine, they will continue to be supported by local staff members and monitored on a daily basis by a local physician. At the conclusion of the mandatory quarantine period, the volunteer will be re-tested and undergo a health assessment. If the test is negative and the volunteer is cleared to return home, Global Brigades will arrange for the return flight and provide ground transportation. In the event the volunteer continues to test positive, Global Brigades will continue to provide support as outlined above until such time as the volunteer is cleared to return home.
In the event that a volunteer develops a severe case of COVID requiring hospitalization and critical medical care, Global Brigades’ local staff physicians will work to ensure that the volunteer receives the highest level of care available to them in-country. If necessary, Global Brigades will work with our emergency travel insurance provider, Core Travel, to arrange a medical evacuation to the volunteers’ home country.
In all cases, Global Brigades will work to ensure that any quarantined volunteer is properly cared for, and arrange for them to return home as soon it is safe to do so. Please keep in mind that each country’s Ministry of Health has its own protocols and policies regarding mandatory quarantine, which Global Brigades is required to adhere to.
**Please be aware that any and all expenses incurred due to a delayed return or quarantine period, including but not limited to hotel, meals, and transportation which are not covered by the COVID-19 trip interruption insurance policy or the volunteer’s emergency medical insurance coverage will be the sole responsibility of the volunteer.