CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR LONGYEARBYEN ON MONDAY: Ski hill reopens, pharmacy urges shopper responsibility, city reduces phone hours, some cabin access cancelled and more


(This post will be updated throughout the day)

With the shock and frenzy of immediate closures and quarantines due to the coronavirus, and the transport of visitors and residents under quarantine to the mainland nearing completion, numerous Longyearbyen businesses and organizations are planning and announced new openings, closings, activities and cancellations during the coming days as the community also begins to focus on the enormous issues it will face long-term.

Also, for the record, Longyearbyen remains free of know cases of the virus as of Sunday night.

Among Monday’s announcements: the city government is reducing its phone hours to scheduled in-person visits to noon-2 p.m. weekdays, the ski hill is reopening and seeking volunteer operators, the pharmacy is urging sick people not to shop in person and people who do shop not to crowd the store, and Arctic Autorent is offering a defrosting/cleaning special due to a sudden large number of cancelled service appointments.

The following are specific announcements so far today:

• The city has reduced the calling hours for in-person visits at the municipal building from noon to 2 p.m. The city can also be contacted by e-mail at General information and essential updates are being posted at the city’s website and Facebook page.

• The youth ski hill at Lia has received permission to reopen and is seeking volunteers to operate the lift. There is a limit of 10 skiers at a time, with those interested asked to sign up for one-hour time slots beginning at 2 p.m. Volunteers and skiers should contact Merethe Stiberg at Aktiv i friluft Longyearbyen.

• Longyearbyen Apotek, which like other businesses not affected by nationwide quarantine measures is open normal hours in Lompensenteret, is urging customers to exercise responsible behavior. “Avoid coming to the pharmacy if you are sick!” a notice posted on Facebook states. “Keep your distance! At least one meter, preferably more to both employees at the pharmacy and to each other. If you have enough medications and pharmacies at home, we recommend that you postpone your medication when you need it. Is there a lot of customers inside the pharmacy wait outside or come back later! We don’t want more than five customers at a time in the pharmacy.”

• The Longyearbyen Hunting and Fishing Association announced its cabins will be closed until the end of the quarantine period, currently March 26.

• Longyearbyen Library shared a list of online resources and diversions for parents in isolation/quarantine at home with children.

Svalbard Auto, due to a large cancellation of appointments, is offering defrosting and interior/exterior cleaning of cars for 1,299 kroner. “If you need new tires for your car, we can fix it too,” the company announced on Facebook. “Reservations to be made as normal.”

• Mary-Anns Polarrigg is closing its Vinterhagen restuarant until further notice.

• Svalbard Husky is offering discounted dogsledding trips for a minimum of two people. Due to virus-related issues participants must provide their own clothing and transportation to the kennels. Contact for details.

•  Research flights in support of the Polarstern, the German research ship frozen in the ice north of Svalbard that is the centerpiece of a $150 million mission to study the effects of climate change on the Arctic, have been cancelled for March and April. The project is also facing other issues that may put its continuation at risk.