CORONAVIRUS UPDATE FOR SATURDAY: FAQ from ‘digital’ community meeting released, virtual local vacation page goes, um, viral and more

pyramiden trip

This story will be updated throughout the day. Photo of “we’re so royally headed straight toward the ice” moment, Pyramiden version, by Guro Skjelderup.

They didn’t answer all the questions and not all of the answers were well-liked, a list of questions and responses from a “digital” community meeting hosted by The Governor of Svalbard, city leaders and health officials at Longyearbyen Hospital is now online in Norwegian and English.

Officials cannot, for example, say what might be arranged with landlords in order to reduce tenants’ rent, what model/strategy for resuming “normal” operations and businesses exists, and when various quarantine restrictions will be lifted. Officials did specify that for now restrictions such as self-quarantine are on an “honorary” basis despite reports of some individuals violating it, but that a stricter crackdown may occur if such violations continue or become more problematic.

Meanwhile, although Svalbard remains almost entirely shut down in the “real-world” sense, a new online group aimed at sharing dream vacations/experiences here is exploding at rate COVID-19 almost certainly can’t possibly reach. The Facebook group “Legg Ferien til Svalbard,” launched by Visit Svalbard, has more than 2,400 members and a huge array of photos/tales as of midday Saturday, 24 hours after it was launched. 

Other updates as Svalbard remains one of the few virus-free places in the world entering the first of two weekends during the Easter holiday period:

Easter weekend boat trips to the ice edge of Pyramiden are being offered April 9, 11 and 12 aboard the M/S Bllefjord. Prices are 950 kroner for adults, 500 for students/youths. Departs at 8:30 a.m., return at about 6 p.m. Reserve by contacting the Facebook link, or walk-ons will be be accepted if safety capacity limits allow.

Tio Moncho’s Mexican food truck is offering deliveries from 4-7 p.m. today.

Svalbard Delivery Service is operating until late tonight.

Svalbard Church will ring its bell as a weekend greeting at 5 p.m. today.