CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR WEDNESDAY: Ban on mainland travel remains troublesome, tourism safety plan OK’d, community meeting to discuss post-virus life

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR WEDNESDAY: Ban on mainland travel remains troublesome, tourism safety plan OK’d, community meeting to discuss post-virus life

Isbjørnars cartoon by Haakon Sandvik from safety tip guide for Longyearbyen Lokalstyre/Sysselmannen. Just days before the June 1 “reopening” of Norway, The Governor of Svalbard has approved the local tourism industry’s safety plan More »

FOR LOCAL SUMMER TRAVELLERS, SVALBARD IS NOT NORWAY: Governor confirms foreign residents are subject to same mainland ban ‘as those residing elsewhere in the world’

FOR LOCAL SUMMER TRAVELLERS, SVALBARD IS NOT NORWAY: Governor confirms foreign residents are subject to same mainland ban ‘as those residing elsewhere in the world’

Foreign residents of Svalbard aren’t being discriminated against – they’re subject to the same coronavirus-related ban on travelling to mainland Norway as all foreigners regardless of what country they live in. That More »

NON-NORWEGIAN RESIDENTS IN SVALBARD CAN’T TRAVEL TO MAINLAND: Norway’s ‘reopening’ on June 1 doesn’t include hundreds of locals; mayor calls rule ‘completely unreasonable’

NON-NORWEGIAN RESIDENTS IN SVALBARD CAN’T TRAVEL TO MAINLAND: Norway’s ‘reopening’ on June 1 doesn’t include hundreds of locals; mayor calls rule ‘completely unreasonable’

It turns out Norway’s “reopening” on June 1 doesn’t apply to all permanent residents, as hundreds in Svalbard will be unable to travel the mainland for non-urgent purposes because they’re not Norwegian More »

NO NON-NORDIC TOURISTS UNTIL 2021? Justice ministry asks Parliament to approve special law allowing border to remain closed to most non-citizens/residents until Jan. 1

NO NON-NORDIC TOURISTS UNTIL 2021? Justice ministry asks Parliament to approve special law allowing border to remain closed to most non-citizens/residents until Jan. 1

While Norway is reopening for domestic tourism on June 1 and may allow people from neighboring countries to visit later during the summer, the justice ministry is asking Parliament to approve a More »

‘ALWAYS POSITIVE TO COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS ACROSS AGES AND STAGES’: Niva Stiberg-Hansen, 17, lifetime Longyearbyen student, wins this year’s youth cultural stipend

‘ALWAYS POSITIVE TO COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS ACROSS AGES AND STAGES’: Niva Stiberg-Hansen, 17, lifetime Longyearbyen student, wins this year’s youth cultural stipend

The following is the speech awarding Niva Stiberg-Hansen this year’s youth stipend award, presented by Longyearbyen Mayor Arild Olsen during this year’s May 17 gala at Kulturhuset. This year’s winner is 17 years More »

 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR WEDNESDAY: Ban on mainland travel remains troublesome, tourism safety plan OK’d, community meeting to discuss post-virus life

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Isbjørnars cartoon by Haakon Sandvik from safety tip guide for Longyearbyen Lokalstyre/Sysselmannen.

Just days before the June 1 “reopening” of Norway, The Governor of Svalbard has approved the local tourism industry’s safety plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But foreign residents of the archipelago, the only region in Norway with no official cases of the disease, still can’t travel the mainland – and face deportation to their home country if they try.

Meanwhile, those remaining here are getting a first chance to discuss ways to return to something resembling normal at the first of a series of monthly “community dialogues” at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Kulturhuset, which can be attended in person or accessed online.

FOR LOCAL SUMMER TRAVELLERS, SVALBARD IS NOT NORWAY: Governor confirms foreign residents are subject to same mainland ban ‘as those residing elsewhere in the world’

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Foreign residents of Svalbard aren’t being discriminated against – they’re subject to the same coronavirus-related ban on travelling to mainland Norway as all foreigners regardless of what country they live in.

That rather blunt confirmation of the Norwegian government’s new “reopening” travel policies effective June 1 was issued in a statement Friday by The Governor of Svalbard (full text below), following two days of fierce debate and criticism by local residents and officials. The governor’s statement emphasizes it applies to all foreigners, including those from EU/EEA countries, and the only exemptions are for urgent situations such as childbirth and medical treatment. 

NON-NORWEGIAN RESIDENTS IN SVALBARD CAN’T TRAVEL TO MAINLAND: Norway’s ‘reopening’ on June 1 doesn’t include hundreds of locals; mayor calls rule ‘completely unreasonable’

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It turns out Norway’s “reopening” on June 1 doesn’t apply to all permanent residents, as hundreds in Svalbard will be unable to travel the mainland for non-urgent purposes because they’re not Norwegian citizens.

Concerns by Longyearbyen residents hoping to vacation on the mainland this summer were voiced to local officials, media and Facebook pages after being told the Norwegian government’s lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions for domestic travel didn’t apply to them. Such residents account for about 35 percent of Svalbard’s population.

NO NON-NORDIC TOURISTS UNTIL 2021? Justice ministry asks Parliament to approve special law allowing border to remain closed to most non-citizens/residents until Jan. 1

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While Norway is reopening for domestic tourism on June 1 and may allow people from neighboring countries to visit later during the summer, the justice ministry is asking Parliament to approve a special law that would allow the border to remain closed to people who are not Norwegian citizens or permanent residents until Jan. 1, 2021.

‘ALWAYS POSITIVE TO COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS ACROSS AGES AND STAGES’: Niva Stiberg-Hansen, 17, lifetime Longyearbyen student, wins this year’s youth cultural stipend

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The following is the speech awarding Niva Stiberg-Hansen this year’s youth stipend award, presented by Longyearbyen Mayor Arild Olsen during this year’s May 17 gala at Kulturhuset.

This year’s winner is 17 years old and attends the first-year secondary program at Longyearbyen sSchool. She has lived in Longyearbyen all her life.

She started at Longyearbyen Cultural School when she was only five years old, when it was a musical play for those starting school in the kindergartens.

A SECURE MAN FOR INSECURE TIMES: Fred Skancke Hansen, UNIS health and safety leader, wins 47th annual Tyfus statuette for volunteer safety, youth, political and recreation efforts

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The following is the speech announcing Fred Skancke Hansen as this year’s Tyfus Statuette winner (presented to a person who has “kept the community out of typhus”) by Ottar Svensen, winner of last year’s award. Above photo of Hansen exchanging a social-distance elbow bump with Longyearbyen Mayor Arild Olsen from live online broadcast of May 17 gala at Kulturhuset.

The Tyfus Statuette recipient came to Svalbard in the previous millennium, more specifically in 1997.

This year’s recipient of the Tyfus Statuette believes that it is natural to contribute when there are conditions for doing so. The volunteer work in Longyearbyen would not have been the same without the award winner. And with his background he has become a central person who has come into contact with many of us who live in Longyearbyen.

A (SOMEWHAT) SOCIALLY DISTANT SYTTENDE MAI IN SVALBARD: Traditional and virtual events bring people together while keeping them apart in first post-quarantine celebration

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Ada Feiner-Endresen, 12, knows what it’s like to carry her class banner in Norway’s northernmost Syttende Mai parade, but this year’s experience is almost entirely without peer. As in the literal as well as historical sense, since all of her sixth-grade classmates except one carrying the other end of the banner were kept well away to ensure a proper “socially distant” celebration.

FOREIGNERS CAN’T COME, BUT MAY GET PAID TO LEAVE: International travel ban to remain until Aug. 20; gov’t proposes funding costs for ‘exempt’ residents to return to homeland

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Svalbard may be reopening for tourism on June 1, but foreigners hoping they might be able to visit later this summer may want to make other plans since Norway’s border is now scheduled to remain closed until at least Aug. 20, although assessments during the next two months may alter the restrictions for nearby countries.

However, for the hundreds of foreign residents of Longyearbyen who are laid off from tourism and other jobs, and now facing an even more bleak situation since special short-term emergency funding for them is about to end, the government is evaluating a plan to pay the costs for those wishing to return to their home country.

REOPEN FOR TOURISTS JUNE 1: Svalbard, the only place still under domestic quarantine, can open again for mainland visitors (but not international) after 2-1/2-month lockdown

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Photo by Visit Svalbard.

The lengthy and increasing complaints from local businesses and politicians about the lockdown of Svalbard due to the coronavirus pandemic were finally addressed – to a degree – on Friday, as the Norwegian government announced the archipelago will be able to receive visitors from the mainland without a quarantine beginning June 1. International visitors are still banned.

In addition, the mandatory 10-day quarantine is being lifted for residents, their family members and guests, and workers as of 6 p.m. Friday, according to The Governor of Svalbard. The quarantine for visitors to the archipelago is being lifted on June 1 to coincide with the national timeline.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR FRIDAY: Big ‘winners’ of 2M kr. in short-term business crisis aid, frustration growing at long-term impacts due to ‘inconsistent’ restrictions

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This story will be updated throughout the day. Photo of meals being delivered to “extreme Arctic expeditioners” quarantined in a German hotel before their departure to the ice north of Svalbard courtesy of MOSAiC.

There aren’t exactly any winners when dozens of local businesses are pleading for bailout money to survive due to a near or total loss of income during the coronavirus pandemic, but among the 32 who received a total of about two million kroner in emergency funds to cover losses in March some definitely fared better than others.