CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR THURSDAY: Governor resumes some public services, Innovasjon Norge hosts webinar Friday, city posts school reopening guidelines


This story will be updated throughout the day (last update: 4:15 p.m.). Screenshot of Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn navigating through sea ice north with returning members of MOSAiC expedition, which is continuing its year-long mission despite virus-related hardships, from YouTube video by Sea Ice Stories.

Openings rather than closings – albeit with “limitations” – are becoming the norm in local coronavirus-related news, including The Governor of Svalbard announcing Thursday it is resuming some everyday services even though the administration building will remain closed to the public, the city sharing guidelines for the limited reopening of Longyearbyen School next Monday, and ethnic eats expanding as the taco truck and Thai grocery store are resuming at least somewhat normal operations.

People needing weapons permits, VAT exemption certificates, motor vehicle documentation and urgent visa/passport services will be able to obtain them either my mail, electronically or by appointment, according to a statement issued by the governor’s office.

“Due to the coronavirus situation, the governor’s administration building will still be closed to the public,” the notice emphasizes.

The city, which announced a similar resumption of limited services on Wednesday, published a localized version of national guidelines regarding the reopening of the school to students in grades 1-4 and after-school activities.

“Svalbard still has no registered infections, and we feel confident that it will be safe for children and adults that the school opens on Monday,” the city’s notice states.

Strict routines to ensure preventative hygiene and proper group sizes will be in place. Classes during the first week will be from 8:15 a.m.-1 p.m. and after-school activities from 1-3:30 p.m.

Some classes at The University Centre in Svalbard are also scheduled to resume Monday, and some businesses such as hairdressers and others providing one-on-one personal care are scheduled to reopen.

In other happenings/announcements:

A webinar by Innovasion Norge to discuss business and other types of financial incentives for residents in Troms, Finnmark and Svalbard is scheduled from 10-11 a.m. Friday.

Bruktikken is open from 4-6 p.m. today.

The Longyearbyen Thai Shop is now open weekdays from 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Tio Moncho’s Mexican food truck is scheduled to reopen Friday outside Svalbardbutikken.

• Restaurant Nansen is hosting a pop-up formal three-course dinner May 1 for a maximum of 20 people (reservations required).