Tag Archives: coronavirus

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.

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.

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).

UNIS REOPENING – FOR THOSE WILLING TO PUT IN THE LONG HOURS: University says semester-long classes will resume in January, but shorter master/PhD courses cancelled

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The University Centre in Svalbard is planning to resume classes in January despite a resurgence in COVID-19 cases across Europe and elsewhere, but only semester-long classes will be offered due to complications presented by quarantine requirements for arriving students and precautionary requirements during field work, the university announced in a press release Tuesday.

SOBERING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS RETURN: ‘Second wave’ in Norway means no new customers at restaurants w/ alcohol after 10 p.m., lower size of gatherings, tougher traveler rules

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Another round of restrictions due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Norway and Europe was announced by Norway’s government on Thursday, including prohibiting restaurants with liquor licenses from accepting new customers after 10 p.m., requiring all establishments with alcohol to close at midnight, reducing the size of public gatherings and imposing a range of stricter entry/quarantine requirements for travellers.

The changes for restaurants and bars go into effect at midnight Saturday, and the limits on gathering sizes at midnight Monday. The government also issued a lengthy list of recommendations for individuals and municipalities.

CHINA BUYING HURTIGRUTEN – LEGIT POSSIBILITY OR NOT? A columnist set off a media firestorm by declaring it a ‘realistic scenario,’ but is it just idle clickbait speculation?

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An analyst snagged national headlines Thursday by suggesting China might buy Hurtigruten in the wake of the company’s COVID-19 scandal in an effort to further the country’s goal of establishing a major presence in Svalbard. Such a presence, along with that of countries like Russia, has for years been among Norway’s top security worries – but is the columnist offering a legitimate scenario or merely clickbait?

On one hand, we’ve been here before with China and large purchases in recent years, and it ended up being it ended up being something of a joke. On the other, another author who’s a foremost expert on Svalbard and Arctic conflicts declares “Hurtigruten will be sold, sooner or later” – although he suggests Russia might be the country more ideally suited to make a Svalbard power play.

LOTS OF HELP – BUT TOO LATE FOR SOME? Government proposing 25M kr. in COVID-19 aid for tourism companies in Svalbard, but some said this summer help needed before fall

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The Norwegian government is proposing a supplemental 25 million kroner in assistance for tourism companies in Svalbard due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to previously-approved crisis aid targeted toward businesses, the Ministry of Trade and Industry announced Monday.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Sept. 8, 2020

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Month of local ‘TV auction’ activities start Saturday, with virus-related restrictions

A month of local activities for a national fundraiser – this time to remedy trash in oceans – is scheduled to start Saturday with the traditional relay race starting and ending outside Kulturhuset.

NORWAY BANS CRUISES TO SVALBARD: Cruises within archipelago with up to 30 people and day trips still permissible under new rule in effect until Nov. 1

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A ban on all cruises to Svalbard until at least Nov. 1 was announced Friday by Norway’s government in an attempt to prevent the COVID-19 virus from reaching one of the few places on Earth with no known cases. Cruises within the archipelago with 30 or fewer people if on-board accommodations are part of the voyage are allowed, as are day trips.

‘DEVASTATING’ INVESTIGATION: Roald Amundsen doctors treated sick crew who had COVID-19 on July 21 – ten days before Hurtigruten reported first ‘known’ cases to officials

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A formal investigation of the COVID-19 outbreak on Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen during two one-week voyages in Svalbard adds more findings described as “devastating” to an already long list of violations and questionable decisions, including crew members sick with COVID-19 who went unreported ten days before the outbreak was reported to authorities.