This story will be updated throughout the day. Above “quarantine in Svalbard is different” photo of Otti Cavalli Eduardo Formentini, Eduardo Formentini and Otti Cavalli taken by Dario Di Girolamo.
Svalbard remains free of officially diagnosed cases of the coronavirus – but not free of snow as a heavy storm starting Sunday afternoon is resulting in heavy accumulation after months of far below-normal amounts. The storm is expected to taper off through Wednesday and as of noon Monday.
Norway’s initial two-week quarantine period is scheduled to end Friday, but Svalbard residents attempting to return home say they’re having difficulty booking available flights for more than a week afterward. A check at SAS’ website shows no availability until April 5 and Norwegian Air has no availability until April 17 as of 1 p.m. Monday. The government announced a couple of days ago it is subsidizing daily flights to Svalbard by the airlines on a rotating-day basis (see weekly schedule below).
The pace of new quarantine/travel restrictions and local closures taped off during the weekend, as the initial shock and effects period nears an end,. But with the first quarantine period scheduled to expire Thursday the next developments to keep an eye on are whether it is extended/modified and what type of assistance program the government unveils for Svalbard to help businesses and “exempt” residents.
• Svalbardbutikken begins a reduced-hours schedule today. It is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 3-6 p.m. Nordpolet is open from 11a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
• The Longyearbyen Thai Shop is open from noon-5 p.m. It is also scheduled to be open Thursday and Friday from noon-5 p.m. this week.
• The ski hill will be open exclusively for students/youths from 5:30-6:30 p.m. A maximum of 10 people are allowed. Sign up in the comments section at this Facebook post.
• Free children’s/family yoga sessions are being offered at noon Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Svalbardposten reported Monday the following rotating-carrier Oslo-Tromsø-Longyearbyen flight schedule will be in effect at Svalbard Airport as of March 30 (all flights make stopovers in Tromsø):
- Monday: Arrive 6:10 p.m., depart 6:55 p.m.
- Tuesday: Arrive 2:15 p.m., depart 3 p.m.
- Wednesday: Arrive 6:10 p.m., depart 6:55 p.m.
- Thursday: Arrive 2:15 p.m., depart 3 p.m.
- Friday: Arrive 6:10 p.m., depart 6:55 p.m.
- Sunday: Arrive 2:15 p.m., depart 3 p.m.