Tag Archives: coronavirus

UPDATE – NO COVID-19 AT UNIS: Negative tests of suspected people means university will resume activities Thursday; caution urged since many reporting ‘common cold’ symptoms

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Photo courtesy of UNIS

Svalbard is still officially COVID-19 free.

An alert issued Tuesday about possible infections issued by The University Centre in Svalbard was cancelled on Wednesday when negative tests “and other information” indicatec it is safe to resume in-person classes and fieldwork. But officials said numerous locals are experiencing and reporting common cold symptoms, so the need to be cautious remains.

BREAKING – COVID-19 SUSPECTED AT UNIS: University says it will take 48 hours to know if ‘some of our students and colleagues’ are infected; fieldwork, in-person classes cancelled

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Photo courtesy of UNIS

The first cases of COVID-19 may have reached Svalbard, as multiple students and staff at The University Centre in Svalbard are suspected of being infected, according to an e-mail sent through the university system by health, safety and infrastructure director Fred S. Hansen on Tuesday evening.

It will be 48 hours after further tests are conducted Wednesday to know if the people in question have the virus, according to the e-mail. In-person classes and fieldwork are cancelled at least until Sunday.

A SICK TALE OF SVALBARD TOURISM: 75% cancellation of tours, 58% reduction in guest nights in 2020 due to COVID-19 detailed in this passage from gov’t report about tourism rules

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Photo by L.P. Lorentz / Visit Svalbard

It’s a dramatic, concise and clear page that stands out strikingly in an 82-page report mostly filled with bureaucratic jumble about rewriting Svalbard’s tourism laws, summarizing officially the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local tourism in 2020.

The big numbers: a 75 percent cancellation in tours and a 58 percent decrease in guest nights at accommodations. As for the cruise ships that have typically brought tens of thousands of visitors annually? A total of 10 ships carrying an average of 43 passengers managed to visit last year.

The figures, while based in part on the same data as a recent Statistics Norway report about Svalbard’s economy in 2020, are more dismal because they focus exclusively on tourism.

15% LESS REVENUE, 10% FEWER WORK HOURS IN 2020: Economic setbacks of COVID-19 in Svalbard wildly uneven; food/lodging drop 36%, leisure activities 38%

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The 15 percent loss of gross income and 10 percent loss of hours worked were bad for what would be a “normal” year, but hardly indicative of the “90 percent layoffs” and “99 percent loss of business” headlines Longyearbyen saw during the worst of the COVID-19 pamdemic in 2020.

But just as those scary headlines didn’t tell the full story, neither do the year-end cumulative figures for Svalbard as the loss of revenue and man hours varied widly by industry and settlement, according to a report released Tuesday by Statistics Norway.according to a report released Tuesday by Statistics Norway.

POLAR PERMACULTURE FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY: Owners say COVID-19, lack of assistance for foreigner-owned companies force end to eight-year-old ‘local food’ and tourism project

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Photo of Polar Permaculture’s greenhouse in Nybyen courtesy of Polar Permaculture

Polar Permaculture – which started in 2013 with one man’s dream of a greenhouse producing local food in Longyearbyen, and blossomed into a full-blown produce and tourism company – announced Friday it is filing for bankruptcy due the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of available assistance for companies owned by foreigners.

RELAPSE: Norway postpones final ‘reopening’ stage yet again due to Delta COVID-19 variant as French cruise company cancels its scheduled Svalbard voyages for the rest of the year

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The final stage of the “reopening” of Norway – and further relaxation of restrictions on travelling to Svalbard – is again being postponed due to concerns about the Delta strain of COVID-19, with the Aug. 1 target date now pushed until at least mid-August, officials said Wednesday.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of July 27, 2021

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Photo of delegation visit to Ny-Ålesund courtesy of Kings Bay AS

The number of research days in Ny-Ålesund is cut by more than half in 2020 due to Covid, winter alcohol sales stave off a sobering year for Korkpenger grants and city technicians save the local government’s computers from a data attack.

RISING TIDE SOAKS ALL BOATS: 30 percent hike in Longyearbyen’s port fees necessary to cover costs, city says; some local and smaller mariners in particular feel swamped

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A 30 percent hike in Longyearbyen’s port fees is causing exactly the wave of controversy one might expect: City officials say it’s necessary to pay for costs (especially after reducing many municipal fees last year to help locals suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic), while boat owners say the sudden hike a horrible burden due to the ongoing virus-caused economic crisis and a series of port fee hikes the past several years.

GREEN MEANS GO: Norway matches EU rules, allows vaccinated travellers and those in ‘green’ countries to enter without quarantine as of Monday – but ‘full opening’ stage delayed

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Travellers from 23 European countries can enter Norway without quarantine requirements as of Monday, although a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours is still required to enter Svalbard. However, the government also announced it is delaying a “full opening” at least until the end of July due to concerns Delta coronavirus variant.

Tourists from outside the EU/EEA are still banned from entering, regardless of vaccination status. Also, some of the “green” countries, including Sweden and Denmark, have regions where higher-level restrictions remain in effect.

A BLESSED SUNDAY FOR TRAVELERS AS COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS EASED: No virus test for vaccinated people going to Svalbard; coastal cruises and charter flights allowed

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Sunday will be a blessed day for those traveling to Svalbard as several COVID-19 restrictions, including a mandatory negative test for the virus within 24 hours of departure, will be eased that day, Norway’s government announced Friday. People who can show proof they are fully vaccinated will be exempt from the test.

In addition, coastal cruises will be allowed “on certain conditions” – including up to 2,000 people on large ships if all are vaccinated – and charter flights from the mainland will be able to land in Svalbard.