STRIPPING VOTING RIGHTS FROM FOREIGNERS? Longyearbyen residents must reside on mainland for at least three years to vote and run for local office under Justice Ministry proposal

STRIPPING VOTING RIGHTS FROM FOREIGNERS? Longyearbyen residents must reside on mainland for at least three years to vote and run for local office under Justice Ministry proposal

Foreign residents in Longyearbyen will lose their right to vote and run for office in local elections if a proposal by Norway’s Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness published Wednesday is enacted. More »

WOW…WALRUSES! BUT, PLEASE, BE WARY: Rare appearance by eight of the gregarious creatures at Hotelnesset draws crowd, but governor says some too close for comfort (and safety)

WOW…WALRUSES! BUT, PLEASE, BE WARY: Rare appearance by eight of the gregarious creatures at Hotelnesset draws crowd, but governor says some too close for comfort (and safety)

Photo by Elizabeth Bourne Visiting cruise ship passengers are still absent from the harbor area of Longyearbyen this summer, but a different group of visitors Tuesday evening got almost certainly a more More »

STREAMING SONGS FOR SOLSTICE: ‘Under The Midnight Sun’ concert by a dozen performers, many working as guides in Svalbard, makes summer debut Sunday live on Facebook

STREAMING SONGS FOR SOLSTICE: ‘Under The Midnight Sun’ concert by a dozen performers, many working as guides in Svalbard, makes summer debut Sunday live on Facebook

Screenshot of Marty Garwood, a performer at the “Under The Midnight Sun” concert, from video by Antarctic Ambassadors Unlike many recent past summers there’s no organized weekend beach party to celebrate the More »

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

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

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 More »

40M KR. TO HELP 27 COMPANIES, 300 EMPLOYEES: Nearly all eligible applicants share newest round of emergency grants for local tourism businesses hurt by COVID-19 pandemic

40M KR. TO HELP 27 COMPANIES, 300 EMPLOYEES: Nearly all eligible applicants share newest round of emergency grants for local tourism businesses hurt by COVID-19 pandemic

Photo by Visit Svalbard A total of 27 companies are receiving a total of about 40 million kroner that will ensure employment of about 300 people from the most recent emergency aid More »

 

90 PERCENT OF NORMAL: Guest lodging in Svalbard can be nearly full, up from 60-70 percent, as COVID-19 recovery continues; some rooms still kept vacant in case of quarantine

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Hotels and other guest lodging in Svalbard can now be booked to 90 percent capacity, up from the current limit of 60 to 70 percent, as widespread vaccinations are helping the community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Norway’s government announced Friday.

THEY’RE COMING FOR YOUR GUNS (IF YOU’RE BORROWING THEM): New law effective June 1 requires people to have a license for specific firearms they borrow from others

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The ease of borrowing a gun from somebody in Svalbard, which basically just means telling the owner you’re fit to do so, will come to an end June 1 when a nationwide law requiring the borrower to have a permit specific to the type of weapons goes into effect.

ANOTHER FOREIGN FREEZEOUT FOR SVALBARD COVID-19 AID? 65M kr. in grants available for tourism companies, but some say Norwegian ownership/longevity requirements discriminate

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The good news is Svalbard tourism companies have until the end of the month to apply for a portion of 65 million kroner in grants to help those hurt by the loss of tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bad news is this latest and most generous of several assistance packages to date comes with strict nationality/residency requirement that some say discriminately – and illegally –  shuts out companies that have operated here for many years.

YET ANOTHER SVALBARD VIDEO GETS TIKTOK HOWLING: Cabin dweller using dog to deliver mail to neighbor on Syttende Mai gets more than 3.5 million views in less than two days

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Well this is Grim (quite literally): It seems Norway’s national holiday is going to the dogs. Or, more specifically, one dog in the most remote part of the country that is winning over millions worldwide by delivering the mail across vast snowfields while everyone else was eating ice cream and drinking beer.

LONGYEARBYEN’S CITIZENS OF THE YEAR: Educator Tor Selnes wins Tyfus Statuette; acrobat/musician Sigri Klausen Markussen wins youth scholarship during May 17 gala

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Screenshot of Nina Westby Thorstad performing with Sirkus Svalbardo from video by Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A dazzling live video postcard of music, stories and awards culminated the world’s northernmost town’s traditional celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day, as the community for a second straight year turned COVID-19 restrictions into creative opportunities for the world to share.

LONGYEARBYEN’S AVERAGE TEMPERATURE NOW 2.8C WARMER: Update to 30-year average is 4.5C warmer during coldest months, 1.5C higher during warmest months

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Those who called Longyearbyen’s infamous 111-month streak of above-average temperatures during most of the 2010s a lot statistically outdated hot air are proving to be prophetic, as an update to the official 30-year average at Svalbard Airport show the mean annual temperature is now -3.9C, compared to the average of -6.7C used for the past three decades.

SYTTENDE MAI IS NEARLY NORMAL THIS YEAR AND ‘WE ARE SO HAPPY’: Longyearbyen’s May 17 celebration has fewer Covid limits, but keeps last year’s ‘virtual’ gala show for world to see

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Screenshot from video of 2021 Syttende Mai gala by Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

The traditional parade through town won’t require masks (but they’ll be recommended and the “paraders” are still limited to students). Unlike last year the evening music/awards gala will allow an audience (but considerably smaller than normal) and one of last year’s best “adjustments” will continue by streaming the gala online live. And since the usual afternoon of indoor family activities isn’t yet possible, another addition this year will feature a first-ever church-directed performance appropriately titled “We Are So Happy.”

This is how the upcoming Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day) on Monday looks in the world’s northernmost town as Longyearbyen tries along with everyplace else to get somewhat back to normalcy more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: Furor at city’s ‘sudden’ 10-day cutoff of electricity to cabin dwellers at Hotellneset/Bjørndalen leads to delay, overnight outages on select days only

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Christoffer Spørck has a couple of freezers full of meat from hunting and other food in his cabin just outside town, plus a group of workers who are going to need heat when they begin painting and adding an extension to it soon. But things quickly turned rotten when he got a notice from the city Tuesday saying the electricity was being cut off for 10 working days – starting the next day.

WANT A PIECE OF ME? New art exhibit debuting Friday features slice of originality as featured painting will allow buyers to use scissors to cut off sections they like

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Painting by Elizabeth Bourne

“Have it your way” is generally not a concept offered to customers of fine art, but those attending the debut of a new exhibit of paintings at Galleri Svalbard on Friday evening will be offered the opportunity to customize their order by literally taking scissors to a featured piece to cut off sections they like.

CRUISE SHIP LIMITS EXTENDED INDEFINITELY: Svalbard voyages limited to 200 passengers/crew on vessels that don’t dock, 100 that do – with lots of conditions

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Photo by the Port of Longyearbyen

Hopes of a somewhat revived summer season for tourism in Svalbard suffered a setback this week as Norway’s government announced it is extending tough COVID-19 restrictions on coastal cruises indefinitely, although the decision will be reevaluated as the country goes through a phrased reopening planning during the coming weeks and months.

The decision essentially means 1) ships can carry only 200 passengers and crew (at 50 percent or less occupancy) for voyages to Svalbard with no port stops, 2) only 100 passengers and crew are allowed on voyages with port stops (with strict infection control rules), and 3) tour operators regardless of size will need detailed infection control plans approved by The Governor of Svalbard.