Tag Archives: coronavirus

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.

BOOZE ON FRIDAY, LOCAL VACCINES FOR ALL IN MAY: Svalbard gets some relief from COVID-19 restrictions as part of government’s ‘normalcy’ plan, even as mainland sees setbacks

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It will again be possible to get a drink as of Friday – until 10 p.m. as long as you’re ordering food – and those inclined to partake in Svalbard may want to toast the fact all adult residents can now schedule appointments for vaccinations, while those on the mainland are facing a delay of up to three months.

PASSING THE TEST, EPIC FAIL AT MAKING THE GRADE: Man w/ negative COVID-19 test hastily sent from Svalbard Airport back to Oslo after skipping mandatory quarantine on mainland;

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A Norwegian man who returned to Olso from London on Thursday and then took a flight to Longyearbyen on Friday was forced to immediately return to the mainland for not fulfilling the mandatory 10-day quarantine there, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

The man did get a quick test for the COVID-19 virus that was negative at Gardermoen Airport shortly before departure from Oslo, thus reducing the odds he or those on the flight he was in contact with are the first to bring a case of the virus to a settlement in Svalbard.

FREE COVID-19 TESTS FOR SVALBARD RESIDENTS: Locals heading home can get tests at Oslo airport and Tromsø city center w/ ID; reimbursement available for those who paid

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Photo by Doug Olson/Mostphotos

Free COVID-19 tests for Svalbard residents travelling home are being offered at Gardermoen Airport in Oslo and the Tromsø city center, and those meeting eligibility requirements can seek reimbursement if they have already paid for such tests, according to the Norwegian Directorate of Health

MORE MASS VACCINATIONS AFTER EASTER: Shots of Moderna variety offered to Longyearbyen residents ages 46+ and all adults with underlying health conditions between April 8-14

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A mass COVID-19 vaccination using the Moderna variety is being offered to Longyearbyen residents over 45 years of age, as well as all adults with qualifying health conditions, between April 8-14, according to Longyearbyen Hospital.

Those eligible can schedule an appointment at timebestilling.remin.no/Svalbard using BankID, or those without a BankID and/or Norwegian residency number can call the hospital at 7902 4200.

SAME SAME, BUT DIFFERENT: Barentsburg and Pyramiden avoid layoffs and mining remains strong, but transit is harder and no one is vaccinated as they share Svalbard’s COVID-19 struggles

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Photo by Alena Kutsenko

There’s no layoffs (although hours and seasonal hires are being cut), but travel to/from their home countries of Russia and Ukraine is even more of a hassle than for their neighbors from mainland Norway. The economic situation is also somewhat better because they’re maintaining significant coal mining activity, but nobody’s been vaccinated yet.

Call it a classic case of “same same, but different” compared to Longyearbyen as Svalbard’s Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Pyramiden struggle with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and this week’s long list of new restrictions threatening to choke off much of the already subpar the spring and Easter tourism season.

AND SO IT BEGINS…AGAIN: Library ends ‘self-serve’ hours, Svalbardhallen closes pool, Fruene may halt serving due to two-meter distancing, Kroa shuts due to new COVID-19 crackdown

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Lots of people are being vaccinated and lots of leaders are simply declaring the COVID-19 crisis over regardless of evidence. But on Thursday morning in Longyearbyen it felt a lot like the onset of the pandemic a year ago as lots of organizations and businesses announced closures, limited operations and warnings as a new set of nationwide preventative measures took effect.

RULES VS. RECOMMENDATIONS – HOW MUCH IMPACT? No-travel advisory among headline items in latest COVID-19 measures, but will it alter plans to visit Svalbard for Easter?

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While those in Norway will have to accept the sobering fact they can’t get a drink in a pub for a least the next few weeks, nearly all of the items in a long list of additional COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the government Tuesday are “mere” recommendations.

Since Svalbard is at the peak of spring tourism season with the highly travelled Easter holiday next weekend, a key question is how many on the mainland will choose to comply with non-mandatory advisories making the biggest headlines such as avoiding unnecessary travel? And if they don’t might it result in some of the recommendations becoming rules?

YET EVEN TOUGHER COVID-19 LIMITS THROUGH EASTER: Ban serving alcohol, smaller public gatherings, stricter quarantines as of Thurs.; recommendations much stricter w/ eye on travel

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A long list of new COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations – including a nationwide ban on serving alcohol in restaurants and pubs and a major reduction in the size of public gatherings – will be in effect starting Thursday, Norway’s government announced late Tuesday.

The new preventative measures, in effect until at least April 12, are the latest of several incremental expansions due to a resurgence of COVID-19 nationally and globally due largely to mutated strains. Central government officials acknowledged the newest measures are likely to severely disrupt spring and Easter holiday plans, but concerns about travel and communal gatherings during that time is largely the reason for the extra enforcement.

‘GOVERNMENT WILL PRIORITIZE’ VACCINES FOR SVALBARD RESIDENTS: Difficulty of coping if local COVID-19 outbreak occurs means accelerated schedule, starting w/ ages 46+

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Photo by Elizabeth Bourne

All permanent Svalbard residents are now a priority for received COVID-19 vaccinations due to concerns about the lack of resources if an outbreak occurs, Norway’s government announced Friday.