The Governor extends the quarantine order until 18 May
The Governor extends the order of home quarantine for 14 days to anyone arriving in Svalbard via airport, harbour or by other means. The decision will initially apply until 18 May at. 18:00. If necessary, the quarantine order may be extended after this date.
- The reason we do not want to cancel the quarantine decision is that work is still ongoing to deal with a possible outbreak of Covid-19 infection in Svalbard. An outbreak of infection could create challenges for the emergency preparedness, says Governor Kjerstin Askholt.
- The priority now is to plan for a gradual reopening of the local community and to ensure that this is done in an infection control safe way in accordance with national guidelines, regulations and advice, she points out.
- The decision to extend the quarantine order was made in consultation with the central authorities, as well as the infection control doctor and Longyearbyen Community Council. In line with these, we have had and have a strict infection control regime in Svalbard. This strategy has been successful and so far, no Covid-19 infection has been registered in Svalbard.
Longyearbyen Community Council will, in collaboration with the infection control doctor at Longyearbyen hospital, make plans for the opening of the school and how the celebration of 17 May can be carried out. That's why the new quarantine order is set for 18 May. It is important that the reopening of functions and services in the local community takes place in accordance with national guidelines, advice and regulations.
- We are constantly getting questions about whether it will be possible for Norwegian tourists to travel to Svalbard this summer. This is one of the areas that we, together with national authorities, will be working on in the future, says Kjerstin Askholt.
- Currently, we are not ready to open to visitors. First, in addition to routines for testing and evacuation of patients, plans must be made for how travel can be reopened responsibly, as well as guidelines for how travel should work in practice. Here, the industry must also take responsibility for drawing up these guidelines. We are in dialogue with the industry about this. In any case, there will be no full opening, but a gradual opening and a "new normalcy" until the corona pandemic is over, she says.
A separate working committee will be established to evaluate and propose measures and infection prevention considerations in relation to how business and tourism in Svalbard can be reopened. The work shall be based on the government's advice and guidelines. The proposals must be submitted to the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. The working committee shall consist of representatives from central and local authorities and participants.
Based on national travel advice and because all travellers must in home quarantine on arrival here, tourists and other travellers are still not advised to travel to Svalbard for the time being.
- The Governor really understands that the tourism industry and the business sector in Svalbard are in a very difficult situation and want to open to visitors as soon as possible. We convey these views to central authorities. 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, emphasizes Kjerstin Askholt.
Central authorities have notified changes in the national guidelines for handling the corona situation in the future. These will be presented in the time to come, and these will also be the guidelines for Svalbard.
It will still be possible for companies to grant exemptions from the quarantine provisions for employees in critical functions for the operation of the business.
At the same time, one must be prepared for the corona pandemic to pick up again. It is therefore important that everyone continues to follow the basic advice for infection control: to reduce contact frequency, keep a good distance from others and wash hands regularly. People who have cough, fever or cold symptoms should stay home from work and be careful outdoors. Everyone must strive to keep a distance of at least 2 meters from each other. The distance applies both within a group and to other persons.