Tag Archives: COVID-19

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.

VACCINES FOR AGES 18-64 W/ ‘UNDERLYING CONDITIONS’: All eligible residents offered Pfizer BioNTech shots March 24

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COVID-19 vaccinations for all Longyearbyen residents ages 18-64 with qualifying underlying health conditions – using the Pfizer BioNTech version instead of the temporarily suspended AstraZeneca doses – will be offered March 24 at Longyearbyen Hospital.

FIRST COVID-19 ANNIVERSARY, FIRST DAY OF MASKS: Still no first case in Svalbard, 160 show up for first mass vaccination as community debates risks/benefits of reviving tourism

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Of all the staggering facts and statistics for Svalbard since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic exactly one year ago today, one stands out as the most significant: There are still no reported cases of the virus, making the archipelago one of only six* “countries” as classified by the World Health Organization able to make that claim.

FACE MASKS MANDATORY STARTING THURSDAY: Emergency measure requires all in Longyearbyen to wear masks in shops, restaurants, airport, buses and taxis, large outdoor gatherings

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Face masks will be required for everyone over 12 years old in most publicly accessible indoor locations and transport, as well as large outdoor gatherings, beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday after Longyearbyen city officials unanimously approved the mandate during an emergency meeting Wednesday.

FIRST MASS LOCAL VACCINATION; TOURISTS QUARANTINED: 200 residents ages 56-64 to get COVID-19 shots Wednesday; several visitors confined due to contact w/ mainland case

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Both the best and worst expectations of many locals for the COVID-19 pandemic this spring are being realized this week as about 200 residents ages 56-64 are scheduled to receive vaccinations Wednesday – but they’ll also have to worry about a handful of tourists being quarantined due to contact with an infected person on the mainland, despite extraordinary preventative restrictions on travel to Svalbard.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of March 1, 2021

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Emergency calls to the fire department decline in 2020 due largely to the loss of visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 22 foreigners from eight different countries received a total of 285,000 kroner in “travel-home” COVID-19 grants last fall and a frisbee golf course is expected debut this spring.

40M KR. MORE IN CRISIS AID FOR SVALBARD: Parliament approves increase in general fund allocation for archipelago, intended to help tourism companies hurt by COVID-19

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The latest and perhaps simplest of several emergency measures intended to help Svalbard cope with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was approved by Parliament on Tuesday, which provided 40 million kroner intended to help the decimated tourism industry by increasing the general fund allocation for the archipelago in this year’s national budget by about 10 percent.

‘CRIMINAL AND PUNISHABLE!’: Reception manager on COVID-19 infected Roald Amundsen quits, says Huritgruten put profits above crew and is ‘an organization controlled by fear mentality’

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Accusing Hurtigruten of “miserable ethical compliance,” a top manager on the cruise ship Roald Amundsen has resigned due to what he called “criminal and punishable” actions by the company regarding an outbreak of COVID-19 during two voyages to Svalbard last summer.