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Monthly Archives: June 2021 − News & Stories


Nor­we­gi­an government plans to denu­de non-Nor­we­gi­an inha­bi­tants of Lon­gye­ar­by­en of their right to vote

This is a remar­kab­le pro­ce­du­re wit­hin a frame of poli­tics that may on occa­si­ons well be descri­bed as natio­na­listic: The Nor­we­gi­an minis­try of jus­ti­ce has pro­po­sed to remo­ve the right to vote or to be elec­ted from non-Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens in Lon­gye­ar­by­en unless they have lived at least three years in main­land Nor­way.

The back­ground: Local demo­cra­cy in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

A few words about the back­ground: Spits­ber­gen is, in accordance with the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty, not orga­nis­ed in a demo­cra­tic way. The Sys­sel­man­nen is not elec­ted but appoin­ted by the government. On a com­mu­ni­ty level, all of Spitsbergen’s sett­le­ments were foun­ded by mining com­pa­nies and run by the­se com­pa­nies as com­pa­ny towns for most or all of their histo­ry. The intro­duc­tion of demo­cra­tic ele­ments has been dis­cus­sed on a num­ber of occa­si­ons in the 20th cen­tu­ry, but took shape not befo­re the 1990s and a town coun­cil (Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re, LL) was estab­lis­hed in 2002. Only Lon­gye­ar­by­en has a coun­cil, the other sett­le­ments in Spits­ber­gen are still orga­nis­ed as com­pa­ny towns without a demo­cra­tic struc­tu­re.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en Loka­lyst­re, led by a mayor (here: lokals­ty­re­le­der), is so far elec­ted local­ly by all inha­bi­tants who have been regis­tered for a cer­tain mini­mum peri­od regard­less of their natio­na­li­ty. This is what the government in Oslo wants to chan­ge.

Near 3000 peop­le are regis­tered inha­bi­tants of Spitsbergen’s sett­le­ments, with a majo­ri­ty near 2500 in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Of the total num­ber, more than 900 have a natio­na­li­ty other than Nor­we­gi­an. A lar­ge pro­por­ti­on of Longyearbyen’s popu­la­ti­on is thus of other than Nor­we­gi­an natio­na­li­ty. Natio­na­li­ties in Lon­gye­ar­by­en inclu­de Thai peop­le, Swe­des and Danes, Rus­si­an, Ger­mans, UK and US citi­zens and many others.

Right to vote and to be elec­ted to be remo­ved from non-Nor­we­gi­ans

A recent pro­po­sal from the Nor­we­gi­an minis­try of jus­ti­ce sug­gests to remo­ve the right to vote and to be elec­ted to be remo­ved from non-Nor­we­gi­ans unless they have been regis­tered in a Nor­we­gi­an main­land com­mu­ni­ty for at least three years, a con­di­ti­on met by very few of the many hund­red “for­eig­ners” living in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Longyearbyen

Lon­gye­ar­by­en is a com­mu­ni­ty with a very inter­na­tio­nal popu­la­ti­on, but soon pos­si­b­ly with a much redu­ced level of demo­cra­cy.

The back­ground lies wit­hin gene­ral Nor­we­gi­an Sval­bard poli­tics, which aim at deve­lo­ping Lon­gye­ar­by­en as a Nor­we­gi­an com­mu­ni­ty. This does not necessa­ri­ly mean an ent­i­re­ly Nor­we­gi­an popu­la­ti­on, as is also high­ligh­ted by under­se­creta­ry of sta­te Lars Jacob Hiim of the minis­try of jus­ti­ce in this con­text. Accord­ing to Hiim, the pro­po­sal in ques­ti­on does not aim at chan­ging Longyearbyen’s popu­la­ti­on struc­tu­re, but is to ensu­re amongst others that voters and their elec­ted repre­sen­ta­ti­ves have know­ledge about “aims and frame con­di­ti­ons of (Nor­we­gi­an) Sval­bard poli­tics”.

Local rejec­tion

Mayor Arild Olsen decla­red hims­elf ful­ly taken by sur­pri­se by this pro­po­sal, as Olsen told Sval­bard­pos­ten. Neit­her he nor the local coun­cil had been invol­ved or infor­med befo­re the recent publi­ca­ti­on of the pro­po­sal, which Olsen stron­gly rejects.

Com­ment

Local­ly, the pro­po­sal is recec­ted not only by Olsen, but also by many others. Some of tho­se who are con­cer­ned are appal­led: denu­ding peop­le who have lived in their com­mu­ni­ty for years, some­ti­mes for many years, of the right to vote or to be elec­ted feels com­ple­te­ly out of place and poli­ti­cal­ly-demo­cra­ti­cal­ly rather unap­pe­ti­sing espe­cial­ly in the con­text of a demo­cra­tic coun­try in the 21st cen­tu­ry, let alo­ne in a coun­try like Nor­way which is usual­ly con­si­de­red to be a very modern and open socie­ty, often lea­ding the demo­cra­tic path for many other coun­tries in the world. The cur­rent pro­po­sal has a very natio­na­listic fla­vour and is some­thing one would rather expect, for examp­le, from cer­tain east Euro­pean coun­tries who have cho­sen a rather down­ward-lea­ding path in their demo­cra­tic deve­lo­p­ment.

New wea­pon regu­la­ti­ons

Whe­re­as most peop­le in more cen­tral parts of Euro­pe hard­ly have anything to do with fire­arms in their dai­ly life, things are dif­fe­rent in polar bear coun­try and with 5000 arms for near 2500 peop­le, Lon­gye­ar­by­en has a wea­pon den­si­ty that is pro­bab­ly not far away from Texan stan­dards. It is actual­ly not direct­ly requi­red by law to car­ry a rif­le when lea­ving the sett­le­ments as it is often ven­ti­la­ted by poor­ly infor­med media (or gui­des, unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly – click here for more about some com­mon­ly told arc­tic bull­shit sto­ries), but it is com­mon prac­ti­ce and it is gene­ral­ly stron­gly advi­sed to be pro­per­ly equip­ped when ven­tu­ring out into polar bear coun­try.

Com­mer­cial wea­pon ren­tal in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Sci­en­tists, indi­vi­du­al tou­rists and others who need, can rent wea­pons in Lon­gye­ar­by­en from aut­ho­ri­sed wea­pon dea­lers, of which the­re are two. The­re was the time when some kind of ID was enough to get a hea­vy-calibre fire­arm; but this has been histo­ry for years now: to rent a wea­pon from a com­mer­cial sup­plier, you need to have papers that you are legal­ly enti­t­led to have a wea­pon of the rele­vant kind or of a hig­her class, for examp­le a Euro­pean fire­arms pass or a hun­ting licen­se. If you do not have any of the­se or equi­va­lent, you can app­ly for per­mis­si­on from the Sys­sel­man­nen.

Bor­ro­wing wea­pons from per­sons or com­pa­nies

Until recent­ly it was, howe­ver, easy to bor­row a wea­pon from a pri­va­te per­son or, as an employee, from a com­pa­ny. The owner of the wea­pon “just” had to make sure that the bor­rower had the pro­per skills and know­ledge and was cha­rac­ter-wise able to have con­trol over such a poten­ti­al­ly let­hal wea­pon. A simp­le form had to com­ple­ted by the owner to pro­vi­de evi­dence for legal bor­ro­wing for up to 4 weeks. But this is now histo­ry.

New Nor­we­gi­an wea­pon law from 01 June

A new wea­pon law came into for­ce in Nor­way inclu­ding Spits­ber­gen on 01 June, repla­cing the pre­vious one which was from 1961. One key chan­ge is this: The respon­si­bi­li­ty to check the borrower’s appro­pria­teness to be given a wea­pon is not the owner’s any­mo­re but now lies with appro­pria­te aut­ho­ri­ties. That is the poli­ce in main­land Nor­way and the Sys­sel­man­nen (new desi­gna­ti­on from July: Sys­sel­mes­ter) in Spits­ber­gen (Sval­bard), who pro­vi­des fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on on their offi­cial web­site.

This con­di­ti­on is con­si­de­red met when the bor­rower can pro­vi­de papers that enti­t­le him or her to own a wea­pon of the kind in ques­ti­on or a hig­her-clas­sed one (yes, the­re was a simi­lar sen­tence hig­her up on this page alrea­dy). This can, for examp­le, be a Nor­we­gi­an wea­pon card or a Euro­pean fire­arm pass. The owner is obli­ga­ted to check this befo­re han­ding a wea­pon to the bor­rower. This is valid both for bor­ro­wing wea­pons bet­ween pri­va­te per­sons, for examp­le bet­ween mem­bers of one fami­ly – a com­mon prac­ti­ce in Lon­gye­ar­by­en – and wit­hin com­pa­nies, for examp­le tour ope­ra­tors who sup­ply their gui­des with rif­les, also a very com­mon prac­ti­ce in Spits­ber­gen.

Rifle, Spitsbergen

Out and on tour in Spits­ber­gen: a rif­le is usual­ly not far away.

App­ly­ing for bor­ro­wing a wea­pon

If the bor­rower does not have pro­per cer­ti­fi­ca­ti­on, then the only way to legal­ly bor­row a wea­pon is app­ly­ing for per­mis­si­on from the Sys­sel­man­nen, who will check the applicant’s gene­ral appro­pria­teness (cer­ti­fi­ca­te of good con­duct) and the rele­vant skills and know­ledge (“til­strek­ke­lig våpen­d­ugleik”) to hand­le a wea­pon. Accord­ing to the Sys­sel­man­nen, this can be done by pro­vi­ding evi­dence for having done mili­ta­ry ser­vice, acti­ve mem­bers­hip in a shoo­ting club or a safe­ty cour­se that inclu­des wea­pon hand­ling such as, for examp­le, the cour­ses usual­ly pro­vi­ded by UNIS in Lon­gye­ar­by­en to their stu­dents and employees. The app­li­ca­ti­on cos­ts 248 kro­ner (near 25 Euro). Click here to access an app­li­ca­ti­on form, app­li­ca­ti­ons by email are not accep­ted.

That’s the theo­ry. In prac­ti­ce, ques­ti­ons remain open: do offi­cial docu­ments such as a cer­ti­fi­ca­te of good con­duct need (appro­ved) trans­la­ti­on and which docu­ments exact­ly are accep­ted or not. I have sent a ques­ti­on cata­lo­gue to the Sys­sel­man­nen and pro­vi­de updates here as more infor­ma­ti­on beco­mes avail­ab­le.

Bor­ro­wing ver­sus ren­ting

Com­mer­cial wea­pon ren­tal (Nor­we­gi­an: utleie) is for­bid­den for pri­va­te per­sons and most com­pa­nies. Only aut­ho­ri­sed wea­pon dea­lers may offer wea­pons for ren­tal on a com­mer­cial basis.

Deter­rents remain com­pul­so­ry

All this does not touch the legal requi­re­ment to car­ry an appro­pria­te deter­rent such as a signal pis­tol becau­se polar bears are strict­ly pro­tec­ted and may not just be shot. Ever­ything must be done to avoid dan­ge­rous encoun­ters or, if it hap­pens any­way, to avoid shoo­ting a polar bear as long as human life is safe. Pep­per spray is, howe­ver, not legal­ly avail­ab­le in Nor­way inclu­ding Spits­ber­gen. In cer­tain situa­tions, for examp­le from the rela­ti­ve safe­ty of a hut or even a tent, pep­per spray could be hel­pful to sca­re a polar bear away effi­ci­ent­ly and for good, thus poten­ti­al­ly avoiding a situa­ti­on whe­re a bear might be shot.

Nor­we­gi­an regu­la­ti­ons for inter­na­tio­nal tra­vel­ling to chan­ge soon

A cou­p­le of inte­res­ting press relea­ses saw the light of day in Oslo last Fri­day (18 June), inclu­ding infor­ma­ti­on about tou­rism and ship-based tou­rism (crui­ses and coas­tal crui­ses) in Nor­way inclu­ding Spits­ber­gen.

News from Nor­way about inter­na­tio­nal tra­vel­ling

The­re is ano­t­her press release con­cer­ning inter­na­tio­nal tra­vel­ling. Non-Nor­we­gi­ans may initi­al­ly get the impres­si­on that the release is not too exci­ting, but the­re is some good stuff hid­den in the beau­ro­cra­tic wor­d­ing of the release, espe­cial­ly near the end. It starts on a lower level of exci­te­ment: the colours of the FHI chart, which is important infor­ma­ti­on for Euro­pean tra­vel­lers, are now matching Euro­pean colours again. Which is nice for ever­y­bo­dy who pre­fers green abo­ve yel­low, but it doesn’t chan­ge much. The latest FHI map, updated today (21 June), shows only two Euro­pean coun­tries out­side Scan­di­na­via in green, name­ly Poland and Roma­nia.

Nor­way will lift tra­vel warnings for Euro­pe (Schen­gen trea­ty coun­tries), the UK and and a ran­ge of other coun­tries from 05 July, sub­ject to future warnings that may be issued at any time as nee­ded. But this is rele­vant for Norw­gi­ans who want to tra­vel abroad rather than non-Nor­we­gi­ans who want to tra­vel to Nor­way. Also fami­ly visits will be easier: so far limi­ted to first-gra­de rela­ti­ves, the list of per­sons who may visit fami­ly in Nor­way is now get­ting lon­ger, inclu­ding for examp­le grand­par­ents. That is gre­at for ever­y­bo­dy con­cer­ned, but not a game chan­ger for peop­le wis­hing to tra­vel to Nor­way in gene­ral.

EU vaccination certificate, Spitsbergen under sail 2021 and corona

Nor­way joins the Euro­pean vac­ci­na­ti­on cer­ti­fi­ca­te sys­tem, which may make it signi­fi­cant­ly easier to get some fresh arc­tic wind around the nose this sum­mer for tho­se who have plans.

Coro­na infec­tion values will be “har­mo­nis­ed with Euro­pe”

Fur­ther down in the press release in ques­ti­on, a har­mo­ni­sa­ti­on of infec­tion thres­holds that coun­tries need to stay under in order to tra­vel to Nor­way without qua­ran­ti­ne is men­tio­ned. This may initi­al­ly not sound too exci­ting, but it means that the thres­hold will be lifted from 25 infec­tions per 100,000 peop­le wit­hin 14 days to 50, some­thing that may be an important chan­ge, as the old thres­hold of 25 is easy to miss even for coun­tries with a good deve­lo­p­ment, while 50 gives some more room for smal­ler out­breaks to not ruin ever­yo­dies tra­vel plans. This chan­ge will enter for­ce on 05 July.

Nor­way joins Euro­pean vac­ci­na­ti­on cer­ti­fi­ca­te sys­tem

And the­re is yet ano­t­her important update: from 24 June, Euro­pean tra­vel­lers can use the Euro­pean digi­tal vac­ci­na­ti­on cer­ti­fi­ca­te to docu­ment their vac­ci­na­ti­ons or pre­vious infec­tions, and ful­ly immu­nis­ed tra­vel­lers will be able to enter Nor­way regard­less of the sta­tus of the coun­try whe­re they have stay­ed befo­re ent­e­ring Nor­way. This may inde­ed chan­ge things for many peop­le.

Sta­ge 3 of Nor­we­gi­an ope­ning plan comes on Sunday, inclu­ding rele­vant updates for Spits­ber­gen tou­rism

Sta­ge 3 of the Nor­we­gi­an plan to lead the coun­try back to nor­mal life will come on Sunday, as the Nor­we­gi­an government has announ­ced in a press release. This first press release inclu­des steps for the coun­try back towards nor­mal life and eco­no­my.

Two Oslo press relea­ses

The­re is a second offi­cial press release, which is important for Spits­ber­gen tou­rism, inclu­ding ship-based tra­vel­ling. So far, a ban is in for­ce that makes crui­sing over several days lar­ge­ly impos­si­ble. This will chan­ge on Sunday (20 June), but this comes with qui­te a bit of small print and the gene­ral deve­lo­p­ment of the coro­na pan­de­mic will con­ti­nue to govern life in gene­ral and tou­rism in par­ti­cu­lar. This lea­ves a num­ber of ques­ti­on­marks, but the pos­si­bi­li­ty of some Spits­ber­gen trips later this sea­son is, at least, not com­ple­te­ly unrea­listic.

Spitsbergen under sail in 2021 and corona

Nor­way makes steps to nor­mal life and re-opens the pos­si­bi­li­ty for crui­ses. It remains to be seen if “Spits­ber­gen under sail” will be pos­si­ble in 2021.

Gene­ral restric­tions on inter­na­tio­nal tra­vel­ling remain in for­ce

For inter­na­tio­nal tou­rists, it is important to noti­ce that the strict ent­ry restric­tions remain in for­ce until fur­ther noti­ce. Non-Nor­we­gi­an tou­rists may enter the coun­try only if they come from “yel­low coun­tries” on the FHI-map. Cur­r­ent­ly, most of Euro­pe is red, and who can tell what the sum­mer will bring con­si­de­ring the del­ta mutant of the coro­na virus that is con­nec­ted to incre­a­sing infec­tion figu­res in the UK? It is uncer­tain when Nor­way will per­mit at least ful­ly vac­ci­na­ted tou­rists from “red coun­tries” to enter Nor­way again.

Cur­r­ent­ly, Nor­way only accepts vac­ci­na­ti­ons regis­tered in Nor­way. This inclu­des obvious­ly vac­ci­na­ti­ons given in Nor­way; vac­ci­na­ti­ons given in other coun­tries can, as of now, only be regis­tered in Nor­way by per­sons who are regis­tered in the coun­try with a per­so­nal num­ber (“fød­sels­num­mer” or “D-num­mer”). The digi­tal Euro­pean vac­ci­na­ti­on cer­ti­fi­ca­te may (or may not) faci­li­ta­te this also for others, but that remains to be seen – as so much the­se days.

It is, howe­ver, clear that Nor­way will only accept vac­ci­na­ti­ons that are licen­sed by EMA (Euro­pean Medi­ci­nes Agen­cy) for use in Euro­pe. Other vac­ci­na­ti­ons such as Sput­nik-V or Sino­vac will cur­r­ent­ly not give tra­vel­lers any advan­ta­ges (other than the actu­al pro­tec­tion against infec­tion and dise­a­se, of cour­se!).

No tes­ting requi­re­ment befo­re flight to Lon­gye­ar­by­en for vac­ci­na­ted tra­vel­lers

Ful­ly vac­ci­na­ted / reco­ve­r­ed tra­vel­lers (“ful­ly pro­tec­ted”) tra­vel­lers do not need to test any­mo­re befo­re fly­ing from main­land Nor­way to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. That is good news for the local tou­rism indus­try, whe­re many hope that Nor­we­gi­ans will spend their sum­mer holi­days in Spits­ber­gen, whe­re 83,5 % of the adult popu­la­ti­on (18 and older) are now vac­ci­na­ted. But tes­ting requi­re­ments for inter­na­tio­nal tra­vel­lers upon ent­e­ring the coun­try is ano­t­her thing.

New rules for Spits­ber­gen-tou­rism

The fol­lowing rules will app­ly from Sunday for tou­rism and crui­sing in Spits­ber­gen:

  • Tour ope­ra­tors will need to ope­ra­te accord­ing to safe hygie­ne stan­dards accord­ing to the same rules as on the main­land (no spe­cial rules any­mo­re).
  • Hotels may use up to 90 % of their capa­ci­ty and keep the remai­ning 10 % to accom­mo­da­te tra­vel­lers who need to qua­ran­ti­ne.
  • Char­ter flights from Nor­way to Lon­gye­ar­by­en are allo­wed again, but not from other coun­tries.
  • Ships that ope­ra­te in Spits­ber­gen need to pro­vi­de a dise­a­se pro­tec­tion plan that is accep­ted by the Sys­sel­mann. Ships will not be able to use their full capa­ci­ty, but 90 % or less depen­ding on the pro­tec­tion sta­tus of all peop­le on board.
  • If the­re are peop­le on board who are not ful­ly immu­nis­ed, then the num­ber of peop­le on board is limi­ted to 200 and the­re is a requi­re­ment to do tests befo­re depar­tu­re. This is valid for Nor­way and for Spits­ber­gen.
  • If ever­y­bo­dy on board is ful­ly immu­nis­ed, then the­re may be up to 2000 peop­le on board (yes, two thousand!). But in any case, only up to 90 % of the capa­ci­ty may be used, or less, depen­ding on the indi­vi­du­al case.
  • In case of a coro­na infec­tion or a sus­pi­ci­on, ships need to return to the main­land or their home port, rather than to Lon­gye­ar­by­en whe­re health ser­vice capa­ci­ties are very limi­ted.
  • In case of a coro­na infec­tion or a sus­pi­ci­on, ever­y­bo­dy needs to stay on board until per­mis­si­on to lea­ve the ship is given by rele­vant aut­ho­ri­ties.
  • Crui­se ships with an inter­na­tio­nal iti­nera­ry need to com­ply to the requi­re­ments to qua­ran­ti­ne accord­ing to the FHI-map as soon as the­re is anyo­ne on board who needs to qua­ran­ti­ne.

Com­ment

So the­re is now final­ly infor­ma­ti­on for tou­rism and ship-based tra­vel­ling in Spits­ber­gen, some­thing we have been wai­t­ing for for qui­te a while now as the sea­son would nor­mal­ly have star­ted weeks ago alrea­dy. Many ship owners and tour ope­ra­tors have can­cel­led their arc­tic sum­mer sea­son alrea­dy a while ago. For tho­se who still have trips in their sche­du­les, it remains to be seen what will actual­ly be pos­si­ble.

A lot will obvious­ly depend on the deve­lo­p­ment of the pan­de­mic. If you want to tra­vel to Nor­way inclu­ding Spits­ber­gen, then you’d bet­ter come from a “yel­low” coun­try and make sure it remains yel­low until you have left.

Easing on ent­ry to Nor­way and Spits­ber­gen for vac­ci­na­ted peop­le

Many tour ope­ra­tors have alrea­dy can­cel­led their arc­tic sum­mer sea­son, but some still main­tain some hope at least for the later part of the sum­mer, and the­re are tho­se who might con­si­der pri­va­te tra­vel­ling to 78 degrees north or even a bit fur­ther.

If that will be pos­si­be, what and how, remains to be seen. Coro­na is obvious­ly the fac­tor that is gover­ning all tra­vel-rela­ted acti­vi­ties now and for some time in the future, with all the well-known fac­tors such as pro­gress of vac­ci­na­ti­on pro­gram­mes, new mutants of the virus, infec­tion rates and so on.

The FHI-map: an important data­ba­se

Given the cur­rent posi­ti­ve deve­lo­p­ment lasts, Nor­way seems to be ope­ning up step­wi­se. Inter­na­tio­nal tou­rists are essen­ti­al­ly not allo­wed into the coun­try as of now, with few excep­ti­ons depen­ding on the coun­try or regi­on of ori­gin, which is shown on this map of the Nor­we­gi­an public health insti­tu­te (FHI). “Yel­low” makes tra­vel­ling an opti­on that can be con­si­de­red also for tou­rists, but that app­lies cur­r­ent­ly only to parts of Fin­land as well as Ice­land and Green­land.

FHI-Corona-map

Coro­na-map of the Nor­we­gi­an public health insti­tu­te (FHI). Latest ver­si­on as of 04 June:
a lot of red.

Vac­ci­na­ti­ons make tra­vel­ling easier, Spits­ber­gen is inclu­ded

Nevertheless, the­re is a deve­lo­p­ment that may give inter­na­tio­nal tra­vel­lers rea­son to hope:

  • Accord­ing to a govern­men­tal press release publis­hed on Wed­nes­day, ful­ly vac­ci­na­ted or reco­ve­r­ed peop­le may enter Nor­way again without qua­ran­ti­ne from today (Fri­day, 11 June). That is, howe­ver, only for per­sons who got their vac­ci­na­ti­ons in Nor­way or who have their infec­tion with Covid-19 regis­tered in Nor­way in the last 6 mon­ths, but chan­ces are that this may chan­ce when the Euro­pean digi­tal vac­ci­na­ti­on cer­ti­fi­ca­te sys­tem is in ope­ra­ti­on. Nor­way has announ­ced to join this sys­tem, and we can be curious about Nor­we­gi­an decisi­ons com­ing then. Tes­ting upon ent­e­ring the coun­try remains com­pul­so­ry.
  • Spits­ber­gen is now inclu­ded in important steps of the easing: as Sval­bard­pos­ten reports, vaccinated/recovered peop­le who are not requi­red to stay in qua­ran­ti­ne (as abo­ve) may tra­vel on the Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It was and is not pos­si­ble to qua­ran­ti­ne in Sval­bard, so qua­ran­ti­ne time has to be done on the main­land, a major obsta­cle for inter­na­tio­nal tra­vel­lers. A nega­ti­ve Coro­na test in Nor­way wit­hin 24 hours befo­re depar­tu­re to Lon­gye­ar­by­en remains com­pul­so­ry.

The ques­ti­on of coas­tal crui­ses in Spits­ber­gen waters remains so far open. The­re is still hope that some crui­ses may be pos­si­ble later in the sea­son, pos­si­b­ly only for vaccinated/recovered peop­le.

Coro­na, Nor­way, Bar­ents­burg …

Coro­na, get­ting to Nor­way Lon­gye­ar­by­en vac­ci­na­ti­on and tes­ting

One can fol­low the almost dai­ly news and press relea­ses on tra­vel and qua­ran­ti­ne regu­la­ti­ons in Nor­way with some asto­nish­ment. The bot­tom­li­ne is cur­r­ent­ly that the Nor­we­gi­an government opens for easier access to the coun­try by easing on qua­ran­ti­ne – but only for Nor­we­gi­ans. Excep­ti­ons from this simp­le rule are few at the time being. The poli­cy is cur­r­ent­ly to enab­le Nor­we­gi­an tra­vel­lers to spend at least some of the qua­ran­ti­ne time at a place of their own choice, rather than in a qua­ran­ti­ne hotel. Coro­na vac­ci­na­ti­ons are cur­r­ent­ly only reco­gni­zed if app­lied in Nor­way, this may chan­ge with the intro­duc­tion of a digi­tal Euro­pean vac­ci­na­ti­on cer­ti­fi­ca­te.

Spits­ber­gen has a record-brea­king vac­ci­na­ti­on rate of more than 80 % of the adult popu­la­ti­on. Nevertheless, frus­tra­ti­on is gro­wing in Lon­gye­ar­by­en about being kind of for­got­ten while the rest of the coun­try is ope­ning up. Des­pi­te of the high vac­ci­na­ti­on rate, Lon­gye­ar­by­en is Norway’s only town which requi­res tes­ting befo­re you can tra­ve the­re. This is not a local decisi­on, local aut­ho­ri­ties seem to be hap­py to get rid of this tes­ting regime but it is a decisi­on that needs to be taken in Oslo. The obli­ga­ti­on to test befo­re tra­vel­ling to Lon­gye­ar­by­en also app­ly to immu­nis­ed (vac­ci­na­ted or pre­vious­ly infec­ted) peop­le. A rapid test is avail­ab­le at the air­port of Oslo Gar­der­mo­en for 1195 kro­ner (near 120 Euro), while a PCR test with result in 1-5 hours comes for 2500 kro­ner (near 250 Euro) (pri­ces from a sup­plier at Oslo Gar­der­mo­en). In addi­ti­on comes the chal­len­ge of tes­ting while tra­vel­ling, which may easi­ly add an extra hotel night to one’s sche­du­le.

Some­thing much bet­ter

Barentsburg

Bar­ents­burg and the view over Grønfjord. Drawn by Edda Maaß, who cele­bra­ted her 18th bir­th­day recent­ly, with kind per­mis­si­on. Congra­tu­la­ti­ons!

But one can also just for­get all this mise­ry at least for a short while and enjoy some­thing beau­ti­ful, such as this drawing made by Edda Maaß who recent­ly fil­led 18 years. Many rea­ders will know the place 🙂

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News-Listing live generated at 2021/September/21 at 07:25:13 Uhr (GMT+1)
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