Category Archives: Svalbard

BRIGHTER, BUT BIZARRE, HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS: Advent in Longyearbyen starts w/ letters, lights, lyrics – and looney laws

An idyllic snowy, yet mild and mostly windless, first Sunday of Advent in the world’s northernmost town was full of traditional celebrations to mark the start of the holiday season – but as with so much this year there were some peculiar and sometimes mystifying differences.

But, in what might be called a gift, not all were sickly and/due to The Curse That Shall Not Be Named (at least near the top of this festive feature).

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS AT WHATEVER IS YOUR SPEED: Full stocking of lively and leisurely traditional Svalbard events gets going, even in this year gone viral

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Outside in the snow and wind there were racers, both fleet of foot and strolling with strollers. Inside a city made of cookies crafted by homebodies in cozy kitchens got underway from its own starting line.

Both are just the prelude to more than a month of traditional holiday happenings in Longyearbyen that will really light up beginning Sunday, despite the darkness cast over the community by the polar night and COVID-19 crisis.

AVALANCHE ON ROAD TO MINE 7: Governor urges caution after fresh snow and high winds create unstable coniditions

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Screenshot from Kjetil@obskorps/regobs.no.

An avalanche along the road leading to Mine 7 observed by a snowplough driver Saturday morning is prompting The Governor of Svalbard to issue an advisory to people travelling in mountainous terrain.

25M KR. IN COVID-19 TOURISM AID FOR SVALBARD: Norway’s government OK’s extra funds to help devastated industry

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After months of pleas from Longyearbyen tourism companies, many saying they are weeks from bankruptcy, Norway’s government on Thursday announced it is providing an extra 25 million kroner in COVID-19 crisis aid to Svalbard through a program it hopes will be in place by the end of the year.

NO CHARGES IN DRUGGED BEAR’S DEATH: Autopsy shows polar bear tranqilized for research tagging apparently drowned when its head ended up in water, governor rules

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A polar bear that died in September while in the process of being “tagged” by researchers likely drowned when its head ended up in a pool of water, The Governor of Svalbard announced Tuesday. As a result, no charges are being sought in the matter.

WOMAN FINED 20,000 KR. FOR QUARANTINE VIOLATIONS: Svalbard resident didn’t spend 10 days on the mainland before travelling home, visited people outside her home, governor says

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A Longyearbyen woman was fined 20,000 kroner for violating COVID-19 quarantine requirements by failing to spend 10 days in quarantine on the mainland before travelling home and visiting two people outside her home during the mandatory quarantine period here, The Governor of Svalbard announced Wednesday.

A LOT LESS GREEN TO GO MORE GREEN: 18 projects share 2.47M kr. in Svalbard Environmental Protection grants this year – a pittance compared to past years due to pandemic

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With relatively scarce funding available for this year’s Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund grants due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials opted to let the money go to the dogs. And an obsolete non-functioning power plant. And some dead grouse.

Eighteen applicants received a total of 2.47 million kroner in grants funded by a head tax on arriving travellers, a pittance compared to the 54 projects that shared 18.6 million in 2019.

‘MAKE THE NORTH GREAT AGAIN’: Neon proclamation trumpeting bigly into Longyearbyen’s long polar night results in polarizing partisan politiking

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If Donald Trump didn’t have a glow for Svalbard after failing to con Denmark out of Greenland, he almost certainly will now.

SIX SVALBARD RESIDENTS ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES: ‘Small quantities’ seized Thursday night and Friday morning; suspects also had numerous weapons, governor says

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Six permant residents of Svabard were arrested on drug charges during raids conducted Thursday night and Friday morning, according to The Governor of Svalbard. In addition to seizing a small amount of drugs, officials also seized a large number of weapons.

CATCHING UP ON COVID-19: Local leaders answer questions about resident/visitor travel, what happens if an outbreak occurs and more during webcast (includes full Q&A)

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Local political and heath officials hosted a digital Q&A meeting about the COVID-19 situation in Svalbardone of the few places in the world with no diagnosed cases, last Thursday.

The 45-minute webcast was shorter than similar meetings this spring when the pandemic was new and all visitor traffic cancelled at the peak of tourism season. But there was a lengthy and dominant focus during the most recent meeting regarding precautions for residents and visitors now allowed to travel here, and how officials will handle an outbreak when the virus reaches Svalbard as many expect is inevitible, especially with a surge of cases in Norway, Europe and elsewhere.

Below is a list of questions and replies by officials representing The Governor of Svalbard, Longyearbyen Community Council and Longyearbyen Hospital submitted before and during the meeting, translated from the Norwegian version posted at the city and governor’s website (some questions are mostly or entirely identical, but the full list is provided).