CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR FRIDAY: Taco truck reopens, Saturday cookout at ski hill, Svalbardbutikken suffers further loses and layoffs, and more


This post will be open throughout the day (most recent: 3:45 p.m.). Photo of Andreas Styrsell setting up tables outside his Mexican food truck for the first time since the coronavirus shutdowns began by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

While the news overall might still be largely unpalatable – such as huge drop in sales and more layoffs at Svalbardbutikken – enticing tidbits are happening regularly now as Svalbard continues a long streak sunny and mild days for the tourist-free population here able to appreciate them.

Those lucky enough to be ending a work week (or maybe just wanting to relive the experience of weekend beginning) can ow grab a table in the town square where Tio Moncho’s Mexican food truck is open again for normal business for the first time since quarantine and other restrictions were enacted March 13. Andreas Styrsell said he expects the truck to be open outside Svalbardbutikken from 3-8 p.m. Friday, with hours for subsequent days to be determined.

Another sizzling outdoor offering is at the ski hill from noon-2 p.m., where a hot dog cookout will be available in addition to the lift. While the previous five-person signup limits will not be in effect, efforts to ensure participants keep proper “social distance” will be made.

In other COVID-19-related news/announcements today:

• Svalbardbutikken sales in April so far are down 36 percent compared to last year, a considerable decline from March when sales were down 12.5 percent, Svalbardposten reported. The declined makes the store eligible for national assistance given to businesses experiencing a set level of decline (expected to be 30 percent in April, up from 20 percent in March). The store has laid off half of its employees and reduced apartment rents for those still working. However, construction of a planned expansion is underway after some delays earlier this spring.

Svalbard Delivery Service will be available until midnight.

Mix kiosk will be closed from 4 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Monday due to scheduled maintenance at Lompensenteret.

Polar Spa AS will reopen with necessary precautions at 10 a.m. Monday.

A community hike is scheduled at 7 p.m. Monday beginning at Visit Svalbard.

Svalbar is hosting a pool tournament beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday. A maximum of eight players at time will be allowed.