CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR EASTER WEEKEND (WED.-MON.): News/events added frequently and chronologically, so you can keep reading it without turning your brain into a fried egg

icefish

This story will be updated through the holiday (most recent update 4 p.m. Saturday), with major/breaking news reported in separate articles. Photo of Russian settlement residents chilling out with some ice fishing during an excursion last weekend by Timofey Rogozhin.

Much of Svalbard may be unusually quiet during Easter weekend due to the usual businesses closures and most unusual coronavirus restrictions, but those wanting a spiritually and physically inspiring experience still have plenty of options including free guided accompaniment on snowmobile trips between Longyearbyen and Pyramiden on Thursday and Friday.

The weather forecast generally calls for safe conditions, although strong winds and some snow is forecast Thursday afternoon and evening, and mostly clear skies on Friday will give way to increasing clouds through Monday. Temperatures will generally be in the range of minus 15 degrees Celsius.

An announcement posted online Wednesday, Anna Ivonina at Arctic Travel Company Grumant states people with their own snowmobiles can accompany the day trips if notice if given by 10 p.m. the previous night, although space is limited. Interested persons can contact her via the Facebook link above, or call 9413 0128 or 9415 4156. The company is also offering a discounted overnight trip to Pyramiden on Saturday/Sunday (see below).

For those interested in more traditional Easter happenings (or what passes for them in Svalbard), Svalbard Church’s 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. Also since the church building is closed an musical Mass on Maundy Thursday will be broadcast online at 6 p.m.

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 items/events of note for the long weekend:

Daily restaurant opening times (closed Sunday unless noted)

• Rabalder Cafe & Bakery: 11-4 p.m.
• Fruene: open Saturday only from 11-4 p.m.
• MIX kiosk: 2-9 p.m. all days including Sunday for the store and kitchen, except for Saturday when open noon-7 p.m. and the kitchen is closed.
• Svalbar: 4-midnight (including Sunday)
• Stationen: 4-10 p.m.
• Nuga: 4-8 p.m. Thurs.-Fri., 4-9:30 p.m. other days (including Sunday)
• Barentz Gastropub: 4 p.m.-midnight (including Sunday)

Svalbard Delivery Service offers service from all of the above except Rabalder and Fruene (Saturday hours are from 4-9 p.m.).

Wednesday

• Svalbardbutikken will be open an extra two hours today, until 8 p.m., before closing Thursday and Friday due to the Easter holidays. The store will be open from 11 a.m.-4 p..m. Saturday, closed Sunday and open 3-6 p.m. before resuming regular hours. Nordpolet will be open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. today and Saturday.

Saturday

• A trip to the ice edge of Pyramiden aboard the M/S Billefjord from 8:30 a.m-6 p.m. is being offered for 950 kroner for adults and 500 kroner for youths. Make advance bookings at link, or walk-ons will be accepted on a space-available basis.

An overnight Saturday-Sunday guided trip to Pyramiden is being offered for 2,200 kroner to people with their own snowmobiles (double accommodation, 800 kr. single supplement)  Contact 9413 0128 or 9415 4156.

• 9 p.m.: A livestream of “Dark Side of the Wall – The Nordic Floyd Show” will be hosted on Facebook beginning at 9 p.m.

Monday

• The Longyearbyen Thai Shop will be open from noon-4 p.m.

• A trip to the ice edge of Pyramiden aboard the M/S Billefjord from 8:30 a.m-6 p.m. is being offered for 950 kroner for adults and 500 kroner for youths. Make advance bookings at link, or walk-ons will be accepted on a space-available basis.

Other items of interest

Tio Moncho’s Mexican food truck is closing indefinitely. Owner Andreas Styrsell says he hopes to reopen where there are more people about and traveling to Longyearbyen.

• Eric Larsen, among the dozens of extreme expedition experts who’d normally be leading hundreds of people to the North Pole via ski expeditions and other means, joins a global group of explorers describing how they’re “embracing staying put.”

• Christian Long, a New Zealand native thwarted from being able to work on an expedition ship in Svalbard this summer, tells his homeland media what it’s like living in “lockdown with 300 huskies” in Tromsø.

• The Longyearbyen Youth Club is having a daily drawing for an Easter treats package, with an extra-large “egg” of items on Easter Day.

• Italian researcher Marco Casula describes being unable to return home from Ny-Ålesund after completing his research last month, and the urgent need for the work he and others are doing – including the travel involved – to continue despite the crisis. (Original article / English text via Google Translate)

• While this year’s summer cruise season is expected be a total loss, at least in terms of larger ships/companies, city and harbor leaders say they are forecasting a return to normal traffic in 2021, according to Svalbardposten. Upgrades to the visitor facility should also be complete and planning for a new harbor more definitive.