TRAVEL UPDATE: Answers to your questions about COVID-19
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September 2020

For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.

The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.

COVID-19 pre arrival testing

As part of our commitment to keeping our participants, staff and community members safe, we require that all participants must be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to travelling to their GVI program. If this is not possible from your location please contact your enrollment manager in advance of any travel. We will also be screening new arrivals for any signs and symptoms of COVID-19, by conducting temperature checks and requiring all participants to present a medical certificate proving they have not tested positive for COVID-19.

Ensuring compliance
  • Each GVI location has a specifically appointed Head of Hygiene to monitor the situation, manage compliance to the policy, listen to concerns and answer questions.
  • Participants are informed about support available if questions or concerns arise.
  • Daily staff and daily team meetings are held to ensure the teams remain updated on any developments, areas of concern and solutions.
  • As with all GVI protocols, failure to adhere to the GVI Health and Hygiene protocols might lead to disciplinary actions, including but not limited to, removal from the program.
Specific training
  • Before joining a GVI program, participants are provided with a list of guidelines to follow in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infections. These guidelines include instructions for the wearing of personal protective clothing such as cloth face covers, coverings or masks, the maintaining of physical distance from other people and the implementation of hygiene and sanitation best practices.
  • Training modules are delivered to all staff and participants upon arrival regarding required GVI health and hygiene protocols including physical distancing, base cleanliness, food hygiene, bathrooms, base zonation, transportation, project work, community interactions, signs and symptoms and initial and ongoing screening.
  • GVI staff are trained and prepared to share protocols before and during the GVI program, answer questions, resolve challenges such as the detection of new cases and address situations where people are not complying to the new policy. 
  • Short training modules are delivered to community partners and members clarifying rules and expectations around interactions during community based workshops. 
  • Cleaning is performed by people who have undergone specific training.
  • GVI establishes relationships with communities and community-based organisations, restaurants, hotels, parks, transport partners and venues, that follow protocols similar to GVI health and hygiene guidelines.
Implementation of screening, monitoring and limited access
  • As per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, GVI issues and communicates a stay-at-home policy for anyone displaying any symptoms prior to arrival on a GVI program.
  • If national regulations require incoming participants to quarantine prior to the start of their program, GVI has arranged local guesthouses to host participants during this time and will help to facilitate this process and fully support participants during this time.  Additional costs will need to be covered by participants.
  • Entry screening for all incoming people is conducted for COVID-19 signs and symptoms of infection, including questionnaires and temperature checks. 
  • Daily monitoring, recording and reporting of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection illnesses.
  • External visitors to GVI base locations are limited and via invitation only. Any visitors are screened prior to entry and be restricted to specific zoned areas.
Implementation of physical distancing
  • Throughout the GVI program, physical distancing of at least 1.5 meters between people is applied wherever possible. This exceeds the current World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. Physical distancing of at least 1 meter between people is applied at all other times, such as transportation.  This is in line with recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). 
  • Restrictions are placed on the number of participants allowed per room, dependent upon size of rooms, to allow physical distancing rules to be applied. This may mean some rooms are closed and require that some activities are staggered.
  • A one-at-a-time rule is applied for corridors to allow participants to apply physical distancing rules. 
  • Additionally, private rooms with a private bathroom are available at most locations, at an additional cost, for those that prefer those facilities.
Zonation of base locations
  • Base locations are divided into three zones. Access to each zone is restricted. The specific zones are as follows:
    • 1 - Private: All sleeping and other private areas (for specifically named people only, as relevant)
    • 2 - Communal: All communal areas (for participants and staff only)
    • 3 - Visitors: Open to participants, staff and invited external guests only.
  • Each zone, and surfaces within each zone, has different cleaning frequency requirements.
Increased Sanitation
  • There is a stock of resources on base for the prevention and reduction of the spread of infections.  These resources include cloth face covers, coverings or masks, hand sanitiser, soap, cleaning supplies and supplies for base sanitation and waste management.
  • Additional hand sanitising stations are installed at strategic locations across bases, including all common areas and all private rooms, offering soap, sanitisers that contain at least 60 % alcohol, tissues and pedal-based waste baskets.
  • Cleaning is conducted using products approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the local national authority.
  • Partitions are available for use as desired and enforced where appropriate, such as between beds in sleeping areas. 
  • All rooms have adequate ventilation.
  • Where shared bathrooms are in use, allocated bathrooms for specific teams are marked as private areas .
  • Sinks can be an infection source and toothbrushes and other toiletries are kept in private containers. Counter surfaces on sinks are kept clear.  Participants are expected to adhere to these rules.
  • Additionally, private rooms with a private bathroom are available at most locations for those that would prefer those facilities, at an additional cost.
COVID-19: Health and Hygiene Pack

In line with our commitment of 360 degree support and stringent health and safety practices, we have put in place a range of detailed health and hygiene protocols to protect our participants, staff and community members. This includes the COVID-19: Health and Hygiene pack.

Upon arriving at the program, each participant will receive a GVI welcome pack, t-shirt and their personal COVID-19: Health and Hygiene pack which contains:

  • 1 personal water bottle
  • 7 personal cloth face coverings
  • 1 personal container of hand sanitiser
  • 1 personal container of liquid soap
  • 1 bar of soap
  • 1 box of tissues
  • 1 pack of travel tissues
  • 1 physical distancing stick of 1 metre/3 feet
  • Personal dishes, drinking glass, mug and eating utensils
  • 2 personal pillowcases
  • 2 sets of personal bed sheets

After their first week on base and every week thereafter, if required, participants will also receive:

  • Replacement cloth face coverings
  • Hand sanitiser refills
  • Liquid soap refills
  • Replacement box of tissues
  • Replacement pack of travel tissues
  • Replacement water bottle
  • 1 physical distancing stick
  • Replacement dishes, drinking glass, mug and eating utensils
  • Replacement sheets and pillowcases
  • Free use of laundry facilities

In order to ensure the best health and safety standards and the delivery of high-quality programs to participants, and so that these procedures can be rigorously applied across our operations, we need to apply an additional COVID-19: Health and Hygiene fee. This fee will contribute towards the additional costs of operating our programs safely during these times. All participants are required to pay this additional charge prior to arrival. For more information please speak to your enrollment manager or refer to our Terms and Conditions.

Supply, use and enforcement of personal protection clothing
  • All participants and staff are required to use a cloth face cover, coverings or masks when not in their room or in other private areas. 
  • Access to a supply of personal protective clothing, such as cloth face covers, coverings or masks and gloves, is provided. The use of personal protective clothing is enforced where appropriate. There is also a supply that can be used as desired.
  • Cloth face covers, coverings or masks are washed every day as a minimum. Participants are expected to adhere to this rule.
Increase frequency of cleaning
  • The frequency of cleaning is increased. Higher frequencies apply to high-touch areas such as reception areas and areas of communal use such as food preparation, serving and eating areas, and high-touch surfaces in non-private areas, such as doorknobs, light switches, handrails, desks, kitchen surfaces, taps and toilets, which are cleaned at least three times per day.
  • Charts listing the frequency of cleaning required for each area and when the areas were last cleaned are publicly and prominently displayed.
  • General cleaning is performed by specific people who are specifically trained regarding specific techniques and the GVI health and hygiene standards.
  • Cleaning of private areas is conducted by trained team members to reduce access to those areas.
Facilitating compliance
  • Bases are fitted with signage and floor markings throughout. This includes bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, dining areas and all other communal areas to help both guide and facilitate adherence to the GVI health and hygiene protocols.
  • Furniture is removed and moved around the base to help both guide and facilitate adherence to the recommendations.
Increased hygiene during food preparation and dining
  • All people involved in food preparation or serving are trained in basic food hygiene and will follow GVI protocols regarding food safety and storage. 
  • Cloth face covers, coverings or masks and gloves are used when preparing all food.
  • All meals are served directly onto the plate with no buffet method being applied to minimise the risk of cross-contamination.
  • All participants are issued with their own dishes and drinking glasses, cups and eating utensils.
  • Food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water.
Implementation of waste management
  • Waste management protocols are provided including the daily emptying of bins, the use of peddle bins and the use of bins liners for easy removal.
Increased washing of laundry
  • There is an increased frequency in washing clothes and bedding material, namely a minimum of twice per week. 
  • An increased supply of sheets and bedding is provided to facilitate the higher frequency of cleaning. 
  • Guidelines for doing laundry such as washing instructions and the handling of dirty laundry is posted on site.
Use of protocols during transportation
  • All transportation for participants is private wherever possible, not public, to allow physical distancing and reduce the risk posed by gatherings and crowds at transport terminals.
  • Numbers of people per vehicle are dependent on the size of the vehicle and ability to maintain a minimum physical distance of 1  meter during transportation.
  • Cloth face covers, coverings or masks are worn during transport and hand sanitiser are applied after each journey.
Actions plans for suspected cases
  • A detailed Emergency Action Plan (EPA) including information on actions to be taken should someone display symptoms of COVID-19 are provided at each location. The EPA includes  all relevant contacts, information and  numbers. 
  • Any participant or staff member with signs or symptoms will be required to seek and follow medical advice, with support by GVI staff. If they are required to isolate, GVI staff will fully support in this process and ensure full support is offered during this period.
  • Any room mates or close associates will be notified, and will also need to follow medical advice, which may include isolation. This process is fully supported by GVI staff. 
  • Isolation facilities will be arranged off-site, at local guesthouses, at each location. This is facilitated and fully supported by GVI. Additional accommodation and food costs will need to be covered by participants. 
  • The room, and any communal areas used by the participant, will be closed until a deep cleanse has been completed.
Monitoring of international and national recommendations
  • Recommendations from international organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, governments  such as the US, UK and Australia, and local governments in the countries in which we operate are monitored daily and implemented.