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Monthly Archives: June 2021 − News & Stories


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/June/21 at 01:54:22 Uhr (GMT+1)
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