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Home* News and Stories → Coro­na-virus: Spits­ber­gen in lock­down-mode

Coro­na-virus: Spits­ber­gen in lock­down-mode

After a lucky return from Ant­arc­ti­ca, the only con­ti­nent cur­r­ent­ly not direct­ly affec­ted by the Coro­na-virus (but cer­tain­ly indi­rect­ly), I am now about to catch up with the Spits­ber­gen news on ths site. It is not that not­hing has hap­pen­ed up north. To start whe­re I stop­ped a few weeks ago: the coal mine Svea Nord was inde­ed offi­cial­ly clo­sed with a litt­le cere­mo­ny on 04 March, put­ting an end to a good 100 years of mining histo­ry in Sveagru­va.

I’ll get back to other issu­es over the next cou­p­le of days. Now, the one thing that keeps the world busy and in awe: the Coro­na-virus – what else? So far, the virus has not reached Spits­ber­gen. But it will not be pos­si­ble to keep the sett­le­ments ful­ly iso­la­ted from the rest of the world fore­ver. The ques­ti­on is, as any­whe­re, how to con­troll this tran­si­ti­on – if a con­trol­led tran­si­ti­on is pos­si­ble at all.

So far, the idea is to keep all sett­le­ments as iso­la­ted as pos­si­ble to pro­tect the local popu­la­ti­on from the virus. Tou­rism has come to a com­ple­te stop. Ever­y­bo­dy who is now tra­vel­ling to Spits­ber­gen has to remain in 14 days of qua­ran­ti­ne. Excep­ti­ons can only be made by the aut­ho­ri­ties under strict con­di­ti­ons if reques­ted by the employ­er or an insti­tu­ti­on. Gene­ral­ly, only Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens, resi­dents or peop­le with a work per­mit (does not app­ly in Sval­bard, but you would need to have a good pro­fes­sio­nal rea­son to tra­vel up the­re right now) are allo­wed in.

Snow mobiles Longyearbyen, Corona-virus

Snow mobi­les in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: cur­r­ent­ly silen­ced by the Coro­na-virus.

This will clear­ly have a signi­fi­cant impact on the local eco­no­my: March and April are usual­ly high sea­son wit­hin tou­rism. Hotels and acti­vi­ties are usual­ly ful­ly boo­ked. Cur­r­ent­ly, howe­ver, many com­pa­nies and jobs in the ser­vice indus­try are at risk, and many gui­des have alrea­dy left the island, wai­t­ing for bet­ter times in their home coun­tries which are usual­ly che­a­per pla­ces to stay.

This is now in for­ce until 13 April but may be exten­ded. The future deve­lo­p­ment remains to be seen, also with regards to the sum­mer ship­ping sea­son.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2020-03-29 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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