Tag Archives: coronavirus

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of March 1, 2021

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Emergency calls to the fire department decline in 2020 due largely to the loss of visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 22 foreigners from eight different countries received a total of 285,000 kroner in “travel-home” COVID-19 grants last fall and a frisbee golf course is expected debut this spring.

40M KR. MORE IN CRISIS AID FOR SVALBARD: Parliament approves increase in general fund allocation for archipelago, intended to help tourism companies hurt by COVID-19

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The latest and perhaps simplest of several emergency measures intended to help Svalbard cope with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was approved by Parliament on Tuesday, which provided 40 million kroner intended to help the decimated tourism industry by increasing the general fund allocation for the archipelago in this year’s national budget by about 10 percent.

HALF OF NORMAL TOURISM = TWICE AS NICE NOW: Average of 226 overnight visits in Svalbard this week is highest since September; numbers rise rapidly after COVID-19 test setback

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Chart by Visit Svalbard

An average of 226 overnight visitors are expected this week in Svalbard which, while scant in comparison to the 537 visitors in 2019 and 486 in 2020, is nonetheless the highest average since last September, according to Visit Svalbard.

‘CRIMINAL AND PUNISHABLE!’: Reception manager on COVID-19 infected Roald Amundsen quits, says Huritgruten put profits above crew and is ‘an organization controlled by fear mentality’

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Accusing Hurtigruten of “miserable ethical compliance,” a top manager on the cruise ship Roald Amundsen has resigned due to what he called “criminal and punishable” actions by the company regarding an outbreak of COVID-19 during two voyages to Svalbard last summer.

40M KR. MORE IN EMERGENCY COVID-19 AID FOR SVALBARD? Finance committee unanimously recommends tourism-oriented package to Parliament, which will consider it Tuesday

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In what might called an instance of the “Progress Party” living up to its literal name, a proposal by local members for an additional 40 million kroner in emergency COVID-19 aid for Svalbard tourism companies affected by the pandemic was unanimously approved by Parliament’s Finance Committee on Friday and is scheduled to be considered by the full body on Tuesday.

‘NO-TRAVEL’ ADVISORY FOR SVALBARD LIFTED, FREE COVID-19 TESTS FOR PERMANENT RESIDENTS: Ministry decision overrides health directorate on travel; details of free tests not specified

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An advisory to avoid recreational travel to and from Svalbard was lifted by Norway’s government Friday. Also, while a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of departure is still required to travel to the archipelago, the test will be available free to permanent residents – but the specifics are unlikely to be known before next week.

Numerous other restrictions applicable nationwide are still being upheld and/or modified, including stopping the sale of alcohol at restaurants and pubs at 10 p.m. rather than midnight.

COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE: Nearly 50 people in Longyearbyen have received at least one dose; all residents 65 and older expected to be finished soon; officials contacting next on list

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Although it took a few weeks for more than a literal few doses to arrive, a total of 49 people in Longyearbyen have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot as of Friday, according to Longyearbyen Hospital.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Feb. 9, 2021

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Illustration of renovated Svalbardbutikken by Reactor AS

New portion of Svalbardbutikken scheduled to open in March, 40 percent of tourists cancel visits during first week after negative COVID-19 test is required to enter Svalbard and 20 applicants seek eight million kroner (although far less will be available) in the latest Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund grants.

ANOTHER YEAR OF CANCELLED CRUISES? Norway extends Svalbard ban – except small day trips – until May 1; AECO faces bankruptcy; Canada and Alaska seasons already nixed

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Photo of cruise in Fuglefjorden by Ilja Leo Lang / AECO.

Signs are increasingly bleak Svalbard will return to anything resembling a “normal” cruise ship season this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to mutate and spread, but tourism officials are hoping vaccines will allow at least some of the season to be salvaged for the smaller “expedition” vessels that made limited sailings here last summer.

HOW TO GET A QUICK COVID-19 TEST FOR SVALBARD TRAVEL AFTER SUNDAY: Walk-in tests at downtown station for 550 kr., by appointment at private hospital for 1,200 kr.

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Photo of private COVID-19 testing center at Storgata 69 in Tromsø courtesy of the city of Tromsø.

For those travelling to Svalbard after Sunday, when mandatory COVID-19 tests will no longer be offered by the city government at Tromsø Airport, two alternatives have been cited by Longyearbyen Hospital officials as quick-test alternatives.

One is a designated private testing station in the center of Tromsø that offers walk-in tests (meaning a wait is possible since appointments are not accepted) for 550 kr. The other is a private hospital offering tests that can be booked in advance for 1,200 kroner.