POLARJAZZ IN A PANDEMIC: Smaller lineup, bands and crowds – but it’s Svalbard’s first major music festival of the COVID-19 era thanks to a wonder of creative thinking and improvisation

POLARJAZZ IN A PANDEMIC: Smaller lineup, bands and crowds – but it’s Svalbard’s first major music festival of the COVID-19 era thanks to a wonder of creative thinking and improvisation

Photo of 2020 Vorspiel show courtesy of Polarjazz Given it’s a marvel there’s a Polarjazz at all given the continuing COVID-19 circumstances, there’s some rather marvelous offerings what’s a limited schedule for the More »

PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES ALCOHOL BAN: Establishments serving food will be able to serve again starting Friday; Svalbardhallen also reopening on a limited basis Wednesday

PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES ALCOHOL BAN: Establishments serving food will be able to serve again starting Friday; Svalbardhallen also reopening on a limited basis Wednesday

It will be possible to order booze with your meal again starting Friday – and get a workout to offset those calories starting today – after Norway’s Parliament on Tuesday voted to More »

‘INDEFINITE’ ALCOHOL BAN, MOST OTHER COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS CONTINUED: Norway’s government relaxes some youth-related rules, but continues others due to uncertainty

‘INDEFINITE’ ALCOHOL BAN, MOST OTHER COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS CONTINUED: Norway’s government relaxes some youth-related rules, but continues others due to uncertainty

Good news: Norway’s Institute of Public Health decided it’s safe to lift the alcohol ban at bars and restaurants. Bad news: Norway’s government opted to follow other health officials’s advice and extend the More »

EXTRA COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS EXTENDED: Digital teaching at UNIS until Feb. 1, norway to test all newcomers at border, recent restrictions ‘will most probably be extended’

EXTRA COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS EXTENDED: Digital teaching at UNIS until Feb. 1, norway to test all newcomers at border, recent restrictions ‘will most probably be extended’

Photo by Ashton Fantastic A sign of the extended COVID-19 restrictions likely to occur in the coming days came this week as The University Centre in Svalbard announced it all-digital teaching will continue More »

NEW POWER PLANT ‘WITHIN TWO TO FIVE YEARS’: Norway’s government says new climate-friendly energy facility will be in 2022 budget; fate of Mine 7 and Store Norske uncertain

NEW POWER PLANT ‘WITHIN TWO TO FIVE YEARS’: Norway’s government says new climate-friendly energy facility will be in 2022 budget; fate of Mine 7 and Store Norske uncertain

A major and accelerated transition from a coal-fueled to a climate-friendly power plant in Longyearbyen, with a new facility in the 2022 budget that is operating within two to five years, was More »

 

POLARJAZZ IN A PANDEMIC: Smaller lineup, bands and crowds – but it’s Svalbard’s first major music festival of the COVID-19 era thanks to a wonder of creative thinking and improvisation

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Photo of 2020 Vorspiel show courtesy of Polarjazz

Given it’s a marvel there’s a Polarjazz at all given the continuing COVID-19 circumstances, there’s some rather marvelous offerings what’s a limited schedule for the world’s northernmost jazz festival next month.

PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES ALCOHOL BAN: Establishments serving food will be able to serve again starting Friday; Svalbardhallen also reopening on a limited basis Wednesday

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It will be possible to order booze with your meal again starting Friday – and get a workout to offset those calories starting today – after Norway’s Parliament on Tuesday voted to override a decision by Prime Minister Erna Solberg a day earlier to continue an ban on serving alcohol at restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city also announced Svalbardhallen will reopen – primarily for youth activities – starting Wednesday, part of a serious of local reopenings and cancellations/postponements related to the virus.

‘INDEFINITE’ ALCOHOL BAN, MOST OTHER COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS CONTINUED: Norway’s government relaxes some youth-related rules, but continues others due to uncertainty

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Good news: Norway’s Institute of Public Health decided it’s safe to lift the alcohol ban at bars and restaurants. Bad news: Norway’s government opted to follow other health officials’s advice and extend the ban indefinitely. Good news: “indefinitely” could end as soon as next week.

In all, it summarizes the government’s latest announcement on COVID-19 restrictions Monday: While the situation appears somewhat better than when a round of tougher rules took effect two weeks, things are still uncertain enough in the midst of a “third wave” of infections to leave most of the measures in place.

EXTRA COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS EXTENDED: Digital teaching at UNIS until Feb. 1, norway to test all newcomers at border, recent restrictions ‘will most probably be extended’

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Photo by Ashton Fantastic

A sign of the extended COVID-19 restrictions likely to occur in the coming days came this week as The University Centre in Svalbard announced it all-digital teaching will continue until at least Feb. 1, with Norway also toughening it entry requirements and advising against foreign travel until at least March.

NEW POWER PLANT ‘WITHIN TWO TO FIVE YEARS’: Norway’s government says new climate-friendly energy facility will be in 2022 budget; fate of Mine 7 and Store Norske uncertain

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A major and accelerated transition from a coal-fueled to a climate-friendly power plant in Longyearbyen, with a new facility in the 2022 budget that is operating within two to five years, was announced Monday by Norway’s government.

The announcement, if fulfilled, means the city’s 38-year-old coal plant will shut down well before the end of its theoretical life expectancy – although it will decommissioned in phases. It also means Mine 7 will lose its essential purpose of supplying coal to the power plant, leaving uncertain the fate of the last mining operation by Store Norske and other Norwegian companies that have been the foundation of Longyearbyen’s existence for virtually all of its 115-year history.

TOURISTS QUARANTINED AT HOTEL: Visitors were in contact with COVID-19-infected person on mainland; all have tested negative and are asymptomatic so far

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A handful of visitors are being quarantined at a hotel in Longyearbyen due to their close contact with a COVID-19-infected person on the mainland before their arrival, according to Knut Selmer, the infection control doctor at Longyearbyen Hospital.

The tourists have tested negative so far, are asymptomatic and are near the end of the mandated 10-day quarantine period, Selmer told Svalbardposten, which first reported the situation Saturday morning.

TURN OFF THE DARK? Opinions about controversial neon ‘Make The North Great Again’ signs in Longyearbyen get more incandescent following Trump-fueled riots at U.S. Capitol

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During one of the darkest days in the history of the United States, a shining light on a hill invoking President Donald Trump’s aura continued illuminating the polar night in Longyearbyen.

And like the man blamed for the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, opinions about the neon sign that is already a decisive loser in the popular vote among locals got a lot darker in the wake of the wreckage.

MASK MOVEMENT: Longyearbyen residents, many of them maskless during much of the COVID-19 pandemic, now covering up due to warnings and returning travellers

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Else-Marie Prytz says she didn’t wear a face mask during the months following the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic last March, when the most extreme local restrictions were in effect including a total ban on tourist coming to Svalbard. But she was wearing one for the first time while shopping at Svalbardbutikken on Tuesday afternoon in the wake of a new wave of infections in Norway and Europe, prompting a new set of restrictions and a strong recommendation from local officials to wear masks.

ROAD BETWEEN SKJÆRINGA AND HUSET CLOSED: Avalanche danger due to overnight blizzard and forecast of more storms closes road indefinitely (UPDATE: reopen 3 p.m. Wed.)

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Update 1 p.m. Wednesday: The road will open at 3 p.m. today, according to the city.

Original story: The road at the base of mountains on the west side of Longyearbyen between Skjæringa and Huset is closed indefinitely due to the threat of avalanches following a storm overnight, officials said Tuesday.

DOGGONE IT…IS THIS AN OMEN FOR 2021? Community joins on skis, snowmobiles – and Facebook – to find Elfy, who fled into Adventdalen w/ a case of the yipes due to New Year’s fireworks

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The infamous year known as 2020 got off to a tragic start minutes after midnight with the appearance of a menacing polar bear in Adventdalen that was killed not long after.

The surely-it’ll-be-better year known as 2021 got off to an ominous start minutes after midnight when the disappearance of a tiny dog known as Elfy into Adventdalen because she was spooked by fireworks.

But this year there was happy ending, thanks to a community immediately setting out “on foot, skis, dogsleds and snowmobiles” into the dark wilderness, leaving behind the fireworks and toasts were still taking place in town.