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
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 considering 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 travellers;
- Lifting of any mandatory quarantine requirements upon arrival for international travellers;
- Resumption of normal daily international flights from major carriers;
- Local lockdown measures and restrictions on movement have been lifted;
- COVID testing is widely available, without restrictions;
- Local hospital and ICU capacities
- Normal tourist activities have resumed locally and without restriction;
- 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 its 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 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 departure and provide proof of a negative test to their airline, as is currently required for international flights.
- All participants will be required to complete a health screening questionnaire prior to departure and on each day of the program.
- Daily temperature checks.
- Staggered meal service to limit capacity.
- Daily sanitation 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.
When in person volunteer operations resume, will I need to obtain a negative Covid test prior to my participation?
Yes, to comply with entry requirements all participants will need to obtain proof of a negative COVID test prior to departure for your brigade. For those individuals who are participating on a brigade to Panama, you are required to obtain proof of a negative COVID test administered within 48 hours of departure in order to enter the country. In Ghana, you are also required to take a mandatory quick COVID test on arrival at the airport.
When in person volunteer operations resume, 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), 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 into the country.
When in person operations resume, will Global Brigades require me to get the vaccine prior to my participation?
Yes. 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 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 this summer, volunteers are encouraged to participate in a TeleBrigade or begin planning for a brigade in 2022, when vaccines will be more widely available to our in-country partners.
What is the protocol if a volunteer presents symptoms of Covid 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 a base travel insurance policy for the duration of their program, and have the option to upgrade the policy limits for an additional fee. The base policy covers medical expenses for emergency medical treatment related to a diagnosis of COVID-19.
Global Brigades will also be covering all volunteers under a unique trip-interruption policy specific to COVID-19. This policy will cover any expenses due to evacuation, trip interruption, or trip cancellation due to COVID-19, as well as any expenses incurred due to mandatory quarantine up to $2,500 USD.
Volunteers wishing to secure additional travel insurance coverage are encouraged to do so through third-party providers such as Square Mouth.
What is the protocol if a community member presents symptoms of Covid while we are on 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 GB 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.
What happens if the postponement period is extended and my brigade is postponed again due to Covid?
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?
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.