The Governor extends the decision on home quarantine until 1 May
The Governor has decided to extend the decision on home quarantine of 14 days for anyone arriving in Svalbard via airport, harbour or by other means. The decision will initially apply to the entire Svalbard until 1 May at. 18:00. If necessary, the quarantine order may be extended after this date.
- The decision was made in consultation with the central authorities, as well as the infection control doctor and the Longyearbyen Community Council. By agreement with these institutions, we have had and have a strict infection control regime in Svalbard. This strategy has been successful, says Governor Kjerstin Askholt.
- We will, in line with national strategies, have a gentle softening of the infection control regime by gradually opening kindergartens from 20 April and parts of the school from 27 April, in line with the decisions of central authorities. It is important that this is done safely and in collaboration with the infection control doctor, the parents and the staff. The recently drafted national guidelines for how this should be done in a responsible manner are part of this safety, she points out.
At the same time, one must be prepared for the pandemic to pick up again. It is therefore important that everyone in the future continues to follow the basic tips for infection control in reducing the human contact frequency, keeping a good distance from others and washing hands regularly. People who have cough, fever or cold symptoms should stay home. Everyone must strive to keep a distance of at least 2 meters from each other. The distance applies both within the group and to other persons.
Based on national travel advice and because all travellers must in home quarantine upon arrival here, tourists and other travellers are not advised to travel to Svalbard with necessary reason until further notice.
- Here, as on the mainland, it will be important to get experience from the easing up we are now doing in relation to opening kindergartens and schools, and see how this works, says Kjerstin Askholt.
- We are therefore not ready to open to visitors without the home quarantine provision. We cannot yet say when the order of home quarantine will be repealed. Much will depend on us being sure that it is justifiable from an infection prevention perspective, and that the emergency preparedness situation on Svalbard is justifiable.
It is very important that we have a local dialogue so that we can have a controlled and gradual reopening on the day it can happen. In parallel, the Governor will, together with Longyearbyen Community Council, the infection control doctor and representatives from the business- and tourism community, together look at different scenarios and have a dialogue on how - in line with national guidelines - the local community can be further normalized.
The health service in Svalbard has, as opposed to the mainland, less capacity and opportunity to cope with fluctuations in the outbreak of Covid-19. On the mainland, there are still restrictions on travel that are not necessary, such as leisure travel. This means that it will now not be advisable to ease up on the measures in Svalbard where health and emergency preparedness are limited.
- Next week we will have a separate meeting with the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the Ministry of Health, Northern Norway Regional Health Authority and the Ministry of Justice to assess national advice related to the handling of Covid-19 in Svalbard, says Kjerstin Askholt.
- We are fully aware of the difficult situation the many businesses in Svalbard, especially in tourism and their employees, are in. However, it is important to emphasize that the number one job is to prevent and limit infection and protect the population. Life and health always come first.
- Unfortunately, we cannot give an answer right now on how long this situation will last. We work closely with central authorities to create a strategy in order to normalize the situation in Svalbard.