au pair

How is the Coronavirus affecting the Au Pair program?

by Felicia on Mar 10, 2020
Coronavirus and the Au Pair program
Dear AuPair.com community,
Given the worldwide concerns about the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, we decided to deal with the topic from the Au Pairs’ and the Host Families’ perspective. Being the Au Pair program an international project which involves people from all over the world, our priority is to inform our users about how this virus is going to affect the Au Pair program. We know that you have many questions and we will do our best to clear the possible case scenarios when it comes to au pairing.
We will provide you with technical information about the virus and will give you an overview of the measurements taken by most countries. We are going to update our information in order to keep you informed about the situation. In any case, there is no need to panic

What is the Coronavirus

Before beginning to delve into the details, we recommend all our users to get the information only from reliable sources. The Internet is blowing news concerning the Coronavirus: always check and verify what you are reading.Taking advantage of the situation and spread the panic even more is extremely easy, let’s try to avoid it!
The World Health Organization explains that the COVID-19 belongs to a whole family of Coronaviruses, transmissible between animals and people.
The virus spreads from person to person, through the droplets of mouth and nose, on objects and surfaces, through contact with respiratory droplets.The symptoms are of respiratory nature, including fever and cough, and they can get worse causing lung problems.
The incubation period is the time between catching the virus and beginning to develop the symptoms and it can last from 1 up to 14 days.

When did it spread

As the majority of us knows, the COVID-19 (first) appeared in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei Province of China, in December 2019. The origin of the virus is still unknown but there may be a connection with the animal markets of the city. The bond with animals lies at the hearth of other viruses, suchs as the MERS and the SARS.
After seriously affecting China, it quickly spread all over the world: from Japan and South Korea (where it already reached its peak, according to the health minister), to Europe (especially Italy), Africa (Egypt) and the Middle East (Iran).

Numbers

The virus is particularly aggressive towards older people and those with already compromised health. The virus is currently reaching its peak in many countries. Click on the Worldometers to check the updates day by day.

Case scenarios for Au Pairs and Host Families

  • Au Pairs who are already au pairing abroad: there is no need to worry and to leave before time. Follow the instructions of your Host Country and you will be fine. If you are not supposed to leave in the next weeks, just wait until the situation gets better.
  • Au Pairs who are going to travel to the red areas: avoid unnecessary trips. You’ll definitely have the occasion to visit those places once the situation will come back to normal. 
  • Au Pairs who are going to work abroad in the next weeks/months: keep updated with the Host Countries’ regulations and with the travel companies. Ask your Host Family about the situation.
  • Host Families from the red areas: ask the institutions if it’s advisable to hire an Au Pair now and consider to put out the Au Pair stay. AuPair.com can help you figuring it out.
  • Host Families who hosts Au Pairs from the red areas: if the Au Pair doesn’t show any symptoms or hasn’t been back in her hometown in the last weeks there is no need to worry. You may consider to prolong her stay, if she is supposed to leave the next days.
  • Host Families who already signed a contract and want to quit: think about it and don’t take decisions that you may regret. Keep updated with the news and eventually decide to postpone the stay.
  • Families who are worried for their kids: kids appear not to show any symptoms. Older people are more likely to have complications.
  • Host Families who are currently looking for an Au Pair: we are receiving many requests from Host Families who need childcare support as soon as possible but the current restrictions prevent Au Pairs from many countries to travel abroad. Therefore, hosting an Au Pair who is already in your country could be a good solution for you.
    You can easily filter out those Au Pairs using the filter "Currently living in" and selecting the country where your family lives. The system will automatically show you the candidates who are already in your country. You can have a look at their profiles and contact the Au Pairs immediately.
  • Host Families who are currently hosting an Au Pair: please consider that this extraordinary situation doesn't change the meaning of the Au Pair program. Every Au Pair is allowed to work a limited amount of hours per week and even if your children can't go to school now, your Au Pair doesn't have to work additional hours even if she's obliged to stay at home. Au Pairs are not employees but young people taking part in a cultural exchange abroad.
    However, given the current situation, if you ask the Au Pair to help you more than usual, the candidate should agree with it.
    It is important that you appreciate the Au Pair work and help in such a difficult time, compensate them accordingly and also motivate them. Otherwise, the Au Pair could feel exploited and leave your family.

How is the virus going to affect the program?

The worldwide economy is already facing the huge effects of the epidemy and there will be direct - temporary - consequences for the Au Pair program as well. 
  • Less registrations from the affected area: in order to respect the measures taken by every country, there may be a minor number of Au Pair jobs or Au Pair candidates who come from the “red zones” for the moment. 
  • Impossibility to travel: again, given the measures taken by the countries, there may be serious restrictions to travelling. We suggest that you check the travel companies' websites to get updates. Consider that most airlines refund the cost of the cancelled flights. You have to check your flight status in order to get more information. See the information regarding the locking of the Schengen borders below.
  • Problems in getting a visa: there may be delays due to the impossibilities of embassies to submit visa documents. Please, check the Host Country’s embassy website in order to know whether they are working regularly or not.
  • Language schools may be closed, according to the area. Call your Host Family and ask them for more information about it.
  • Changes in the Au Pair daily schedule: since many countries are now closing schools, the Host Kids will be at home most of the time. Therefore, your daily tasks and schedule could change, in order to handle this extraordinary situation as best as possible. Flexibility and cooperation are required now more than ever, but the terms and the nature of the Au Pair program have to be respected, without exploitation or misuse.
  • ​If the Au Pair works less hours: Changing the Au Pair schedule means reducing the amount of hours she/he has to work? If the answer is yes, please remember that the pocket money he/she receives isn’t a proper salary but a compensation for the provided childcare. Therefore, the Au Pair still has to be paid during the quarantine, as agreed in the contract, considering the necessities and the resources of the Host Family. 

Update: measures taken in every country

Being China the first area affected by the virus, its government already took the necessary precautions some months ago in order to contain it. People are monitored everyday, they are obliged to wear face masks and to pass a daily healthy check. Cities have been locked down, public gatherings have been suspended.
In February, the virus began to spread in Europe as well, especially in Italy, 
Italy is the European country with the majority of cases registered. Italy had already blocked the flights from and for China in January. At the moment there are strict measures which forbid people to travel to or to leave their hometowns. Schools and Universities will be closed until the 3rd April, as well as restaurants, cafés and shops (except for drugstores, supermarkets and filling stations); all the public events are forbidden. Many flight companies have cancelled the flights for and to Italy until the 8th April. Given that numbers are sadly continuing to increase in Italy, the government has decided to make lockdown measure harder. These include the cessation of all economic activities that are not essential to the functioning of te country or the prohibition of outdoor activites, even alone. 
As for Italy, many countries have adopted the same restrictions on travels and large gatherings.
France also decided that the population can’t go out without a self-certification. The only reasons allowed are to go shopping, to see the doctor, to go to work if teleworking is not possible, to work out close to home, to take pets for a walk or to visit the family if necessary. Until a few days ago, only people who were hospitalized, suffering from severe symptoms or in intensive care were tested. Now, some hospitals are trying to set up a new systems to test as many people as possible. 
The day after the start of containment in France, Belgium took very similar measures, followed by Spain who hopes to see the results of the lockdown the next days.
Germany is gradually closing schools and cancelling all the public events. Germany has also closed the borders to the neighbouring countries Austria, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland and Denmark. 
The US stopped all the flights from Europe and extended the shutdown for further 30 days, being now the country with the majority of COVID cases in the world. The UK responds to the outbreak with a forced 14-days quarantine for all the people who travelled to the red areas. From the 24th March, the UK is also under lockdown. More than 1,7 billion people in the world are confined to their homes because of the Coronavirus outbreak. 
The European Union has also decided to close its borders. No international flights can enter the Schengen area, except for repatriations. 

Prevention

Let’s keep it simple. Preventing the virus is possible, we just have to take care of ourselves and to follow these steps. They can really make the difference!
  • Wash your hands - how many times have you told your Host Kids to do that? It’s time for you to lead by example.
  • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose and mouth): if you don’t wash your hand, you shouldn’t touch your face. It’s actually something that we should never do. No news!
  • Maintain at least 1 meter distance: especially in crowded places. The new indications suggested 4,5 metres.
  • Don’t cough and sneeze on the face of somebody else - again, no news!
  • Avoid crowded places, especially if you already feel ill. 
  • Don’t panic: viruses like panic, don’t feed them!
  • Don’t waste face masks. The WHO suggests to wear a mask only if you have the symptoms or if you are in contact with a person who has the virus! Don’t waste the masks! There are people who really need it.
  • If you have been to the contaged areas, stay at home for 14 days. It’s just a means to prevent the eventual diffusion of the virus. It’s time to check all the series on your Netflix list, 14 days can go very fast.
To read more about the protective measures click here.
This situation is pretty new for everyone but we can really help each other taking all the prevention methods seriously. It’s a sign of respect for all the people who already have a compromised health and for the professionals who are working nonstop in clinics and hospitals. Let’s try to do our best! #stayathome
 
We are going to keep you updated with all the information concerning the Au Pair programs and the restrictions in every country. Stay tuned!

If you are running out of ideas to entertain the kids during the quarantine and you are wondering about the best way to deal with this serious topic with them, check out our new blog post! We will find tips and ideas which will be useful for the quarantine!

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Some Thoughts...
Portia
Mar, 11, 2020 - 08:03 pm
Very helpful. Thank you for such an informative article
Simon
Mar, 13, 2020 - 08:03 pm
How do we deal with the situation that the aupair didn't need a visa so far because she wasn't planning to stay more than three months but may be not able to leave because of travelling restrictions and therefore may exceed the three months?!
Julia, Aupair.com | Mar, 31, 2020 - 04:03 pm
Hello Simon,

Thank you for your comment. For now, it really depends on which countries you and the candidate live in. For example, in many countries around Europe, entering or leaving a country is not an option at the moment and EU citizens are still banned from entering the US. Please make sure to read the information on the embassy's website and think about postponing the stay.

We hope that you and your family stay healthy!
Milly
Apr, 02, 2020 - 09:04 am
We are due to be collecting an au pair from chile on Saturday. Should he still come?
Julia, Aupair.com | Apr, 06, 2020 - 09:04 am
Hello Milly,

Thank you for your comment. For now, it really depends on which countries you and the candidate live in. For example, in many countries around Europe, entering or leaving a country is not an option at the moment and EU citizens are still banned from entering the US. Please make sure to read the information on the embassy's website and think about postponing the stay. We hope that you and your family stay healthy!
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