CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR FRI.-SUN.: First round of ‘exempt’ aid complete, applications for next begin Sunday; mainland cities cancel May 17 events; and more


This story will be updated throughout the weekend (most recent: 4:45 p.m. Saturday). Photos of world-famous Longyearbyen resident, Trym Aunevik, 18, at his new job as a cleaner for Pole Position Logistics (details below) by Terje Aunevik.

The first application round for grants to help “exempt” residents who’ve been laid off is complete, with those rejected and/or with children among those apply to reapply for a second round beginning Sunday, the city announced Friday.

The second round for the grants, which provide up to 20 days of compensation with a maximum of 10,800 kroner, will last until May 18.

The grants are for the estimated 300 Longyearbyen residents from non EU/EEA countries who are ineligible for the regular unemployment/insurance benefits via Norway’s social benefits system.

“Anyone who cares for children under 18 can reapply from April 19,” the announcement states. “This also applies to those who are single/without children who have not yet applied. Individuals who have been granted a grant for 20 days do not have the opportunity to reapply.”

Also, “if you have been rejected, you have the opportunity to submit a new application or submit documentation.”

Verification will be conducted May 14 and 15 and the grant paid during the week beginning May 18.

Grants are means-tested, so those receiving more than 10,800 kroner in income during the period are ineligible and those receiving income less than that amount will receive the difference, according to the city.

In other coronavirus-related announcements and developments Friday:

An all-ages hike following a loop around the edges of the main part of Longyearbyen is scheduled at 7 p.m. Monday beginning at Lompensenteret.

Svalbard Delivery Service will be available from 4 p.m. Saturday until 2 a.m. Sunday, and from 4 p.m.-midnight Sunday.

Tio Moncho’s Mexican food truck is planning to reopen next Friday (April 24) outside Svalbardbutikken.

Norway’s major cities have cancelled their May 17 parades, with some stating some types of reduced syttende mai celebrations may be possible. Longyearbyen city officials made a similar statement Thursday about a reduced celebration, at a minimum, although provided no definitive word about the main parade.

• And for a feel-good Friday finale, Trym Aunevik, 18, who gained global fame as the first disabled person ever raised from birth in Longyearbyen and went on to compete as a swimmer in the Special Olympic World Games last year, has managed to find a new job after being among the many finding themselves unemployed since the coronavirus crisis began. The teen with Down’s Syndrome, formerly a familiar sight at his mother’s Fruene cafe, is now working as a cleaner at Pole Position Logistics.