Category Archives: Svalbard

13 COVID CASES IN SVALBARD FIRST WEEK OF 2022: Four infected with Omicron, officials said they’ve lost control of ability to track cases, increases expected to continue


Photo by Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A total of 13 COVID-19 cases were detected among residents and visitors in Svalbard during the first week of 2022, including four of the Omicron variant, with local officials saying they expected cases to continue to rise and they’ve lost control of the ability track the path of local cases.

ONE OF SVALBARD’S TWO UNDERSEA FIBER CABLES SEVERED: Officials say communications capability still normal, emergency repair and contingency operations underway


One of two subsea fiber cables providing communications capabilities to Svalbard from mainland Norway is severed, posing a potential threat to virtually cut off the archipelago from the outside world although capabilities are currently operating normally on the lone remaining cable, officials said Sunday.

SWISS APPOINT SVALBARD’S FIRST ‘HONORARY’ CONSUL: Marcel Schütz, a tour operator critical of Norway’s recent policy for foreigners, named first-ever such diplomat in Arctic


Photo Marcel Schütz, right, discussing his new appointment as Switzerland’s first honorary consul in Svalbard, by Michael Wenger

Marcel Schütz is among those recently questioning the Norwegian government’s approach to policy regarding foreign residents in Svalbard, but his importance from his homeland’s perspective made history this week as Switzerland appointed him the first local honorary Swiss consul during a ceremony in Longyearbyen.

SOLIDIFYING THE LAND, STIRRING UP THE WATERS: Expert says Russia will boost peaceful activities in Svalbard such as tourism and research, increase military provocation at sea


Photo of Lenin bust in Barentsburg by Wikimedia Commons

“Russia isn’t about to annex Svalbard,” but is planning a hostile takeover of sorts in the waters surrounding it, according to a polar geopolics expert.

That means in addition to boosting its archipelago activities such as tourism and research, there will be more “sabre rattling” in the form of warships sailing closer, louder diplomatic protests and other actions while remaining inside the boundaries of the Svalbard Treaty.

LONGYEARBYEN SCHOOL NIXES EVENTS AS NORWAY REVIVES STRICT COVID-19 RULES: Resurgence of virus means ‘a difficult Christmas’ as month-long limits on gatherings, more enacted


Photo courtesy of Longyearbyen School

The Grinch is back in his mean mode in the form of the latest COVID-19 varient, as Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said Tuesday “it will be a difficult Christmas holiday this year as well” while announcing a series of revived crackdowns for the next month – including limits of gathering sizes and bar hours – due to a resurgence of the virus in the country and elsewhere.

In Svalbard officials announced Tuesday that Longyearbyen School is shutting its doors to public events, due to the potential consequences of infections rather than concern about a large local outbreak.

‘BEARING WITNESS TO SVALBARD’S FRAGILE SPLENDOR’: Latest NY Times photo series of ‘world’s most compelling places’ debuts with inevitable ‘collapse’ of ‘etheral’ ecosystem


It’s not exactly breaking news – especially since it’s from a visit in 2017 – but another stark warning about Svalbard’s future is at the top of The New York Times’ website on Monday, in the form of an essay where the photos are meant to convey a message outsiders might not grasp in words.

NORWAY REIMPOSES NEGATIVE COVID-19 TEST FOR SVALBARD TRAVELERS: Omicrom varient means mainland test required within 24 hours of departure, including vaccinated persons


Photo by Arild Olsen / Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours for all people traveling to Svalbard is in effect again due to concerns about the highly contageous Omicrom that has reached Norway and scores of other countries, Norway’s government announced Friday.

Permanent Svalbard residents can get free tests at Gardermoen Airport in Olso and in the Tromsø city center. However, self-tests are not valid for any travellers.

CHRISTMAS ‘COUPLE’ CHEERS UP COLD: Few outside Svalbard know Santa’s real home is here; fewer still the ‘occupant’ whose arrival locals celebrated with Sunday’s tree lighting


Photo by Arild Olsen / Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A secret known to few outside Svalbard is Santa’s real home is in the abandoned Mine 2B, located above his special mailbox that many of Longyearbyen’s children placed their letters in Sunday.

But a possibly even more secret citizen of the season was shared on his namesake day by a well wisher as the town celebrated the beginning of Advent in 12C cold and winds gusting to 54 km/h with the lighting of the town Christmas tree and other traditional activities.

COVID-19 self-test distribution station opens Monday at Longyear 78°; free kits provided to vaccinated people with respitory symptoms and targeted unvaccinated groups


Photo by Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A COVID-19 self-test distribution station in the parking lot of Longyear 78° is scheduled to be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays starting Monday, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

SEAL OF DISAPPROVAL: Man fined 20,000 kroner, but avoids prison, for ‘incorrect’ explanation to police about shooting of a seal by another person at Svea


Photo courtesy of The Research Council of Norway

A man in his mid-20s has been sentenced to 14 days probation and fined 20,000 kroner for an “incorrect explanation to the police in connection with the illegal hunting of a bearded seal in Svea in June this year,” The Governor of Svalbard announced Friday.