Tag Archives: coronavirus

RELAPSE: Norway postpones final ‘reopening’ stage yet again due to Delta COVID-19 variant as French cruise company cancels its scheduled Svalbard voyages for the rest of the year

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The final stage of the “reopening” of Norway – and further relaxation of restrictions on travelling to Svalbard – is again being postponed due to concerns about the Delta strain of COVID-19, with the Aug. 1 target date now pushed until at least mid-August, officials said Wednesday.

RISING TIDE SOAKS ALL BOATS: 30 percent hike in Longyearbyen’s port fees necessary to cover costs, city says; some local and smaller mariners in particular feel swamped

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A 30 percent hike in Longyearbyen’s port fees is causing exactly the wave of controversy one might expect: City officials say it’s necessary to pay for costs (especially after reducing many municipal fees last year to help locals suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic), while boat owners say the sudden hike a horrible burden due to the ongoing virus-caused economic crisis and a series of port fee hikes the past several years.

GREEN MEANS GO: Norway matches EU rules, allows vaccinated travellers and those in ‘green’ countries to enter without quarantine as of Monday – but ‘full opening’ stage delayed

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Travellers from 23 European countries can enter Norway without quarantine requirements as of Monday, although a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours is still required to enter Svalbard. However, the government also announced it is delaying a “full opening” at least until the end of July due to concerns Delta coronavirus variant.

Tourists from outside the EU/EEA are still banned from entering, regardless of vaccination status. Also, some of the “green” countries, including Sweden and Denmark, have regions where higher-level restrictions remain in effect.

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

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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 day, Norway’s government announced Friday. People who can show proof they are fully vaccinated will be exempt from the test.

In addition, coastal cruises will be allowed “on certain conditions” – including up to 2,000 people on large ships if all are vaccinated – and charter flights from the mainland will be able to land in Svalbard.

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

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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 package intended to help tourism companies in Svalbard affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Longyearbyen’s Community Council, which evaluated applications and approved the allocations.

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.

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