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.
Those in quarantine locally can only be outside their residence if close contact with people other than those they cohabitate with is avoided.
“We take such violations of the infection control rules seriously,” Lt. Gov, Sølvi Elvedahl said in a prepared statement. “The fine of 20,000 kroner is in line with what the Director of Public Prosecutions of Norway has set as a normal penalty for violating the rules for quarantine.”
The woman, who violated the mainland quarantine rule by flying home early from Gardermoen Airport in Olso, agreed to pay the fine, according to the governor’s office.
COVID-19 cases are surging in Norway, Europe and many other parts of the world, causing heightened concerns in Svalbard due to increased travel expected throughout the upcoming holiday season and beginning of a new semester at The University Centre in Svalbard. An online webcast hosted last week by top local officials resulted in a lengthy FAQ of current restrictions and contingency plans related to the virus.
The archipelago is among only eight “countries” – as classified by the World Health Organization – with no diagnosed COVID-19 cases (not including Turkmenistan and North Korea, whose claims are not considered credible by virtually all global health officials). A primary reason is extraordinary precautions exceeding those on the mainland have been in effect during much of the pandemic due to the limited medical and emergency transport capabilities available in the event of an outbreak – but right now the only restrictions in effect are the same as for the rest of Norway.
“The level of fines for breaking these rules is high and reflects the danger one exposes oneself and others to by breaking them,” Elvedahl said.