CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR WEDNESDAY: ‘Digital’ community crisis meeting, church hosting online and outdoor holiday services, Isfjord Radio open for Easter


This “fox news” update will include items added throughout the day. Photo by Merethe Stiberg.

As Svalbard remains the only region in the High North officially free of coronavirus cases as of noon April 1 (no joke), there’s also actually some other relatively good news in terms of an isolated community being able to come together again (also not a joke) even if it’s still not in ways entirely normal.

A public “digital meeting” featuring updates about the crisis from leaders of the Longyearbyen Community Council, The Governor of Svalbard and Longyearbyen Hospital is scheduled at 6 p.m. Thursday. People can observe the Kuturhuset meeting via Facebook on computer and mobile devices, and ask questions in Norwegian and English in the comments box during the live stream.

Also going online is a musical Mass on Maundy Thursday (April 9) by Svalbard Church. And while the church itself is closed, the traditional outside Good Friday Mass at Vindodden is scheduled to take place as usual at 1 p.m. April 10 and Easter Mass this year will take place outdoors at the church’s cabin in  Todalen.

Another option for locals unable to book cabins or make other getaway plans is Isfjord Radio, which will be open to guests between April 8 and 13, according to a post on the station’s Facebook page. Prices are 1,490 kroner a night including a formal four-course dinner and breakfast, with a 15 percent discount for stays beyond one night. Due to preventative measures, a maximum of 22 bookings per day are available (a minimum of six are needed for the station to open).

Other announcements/activities for Wednesday that only include one joke include:

• Aktiv i Friluft Longyearbyen is hosting a ski trip to Hjorthamn for up to ten youths beginning at SSU at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The ski hill will be open from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, with up to seven youths able to sign up for one-hour time slots.

• Despite the coronavirus crisis, Github is nonetheless planning to deposit open-source bitcoin code in the Arctic World Archive vault inside Mine 3 this month. (Note: We feel the need to firmly declare this is not the joke item.)

• As if nine months of self-isolation isn’t enough for the two woman overwintering in a remote cabin in Svalbard, their “Hearts In The Ice” Adventure is belong extended beyond May due to the coronavirus crisis, according to Science Times.

• Walrus AS regrets to inform the community that Iron Maiden will not be performing at Kulturhuset this fall. Anybody who’s paid money for tickets will receive refunds.