Repeals the quarantine order for permanent residents today

The Governor repeals the home quarantine order for permanent residents in Svalbard from today at 18.00. In accordance with the government's guidelines, the Governor will open for leisure travellers to Svalbard from 1 June 2020.

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Published 5/15/2020

- We are repealing the order on home quarantine for permanent residents and their immediate family members on the mainland who come to visit, as well as people with a job or research assignment on Svalbard. This applies from today at 18:00, states Governor Kjerstin Askholt.

- In accordance with national regulations, the Governor continues the decision on home quarantine for all other travellers to Svalbard, including leisure travellers, until 1 June 2020. The condition for repealing the decision on 1 June is that the tourism industry in Svalbard has an overall, local guideline and that the individual companies have specific plans for how to conduct infection prevention responsibly, she says.

A working committee on Svalbard, led by the Governor, has drawn up a draft for such a guideline so that the tourism industry can be able to operate in an infection prevention responsible manner.

- Visit Svalbard and the local tourism industry have contributed very well in this work, and together we have agreed on a set of rules and advice. This draft is now at the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Institute of Public Health for review and input. The guideline draft is based on the national infection prevention advices and the applicable law and regulations, says Kjerstin Askholt.

- The industry guideline and the requirement for specific plans for each business will apply to the entire tourism industry in Svalbard, not just those organized under Visit Svalbard. The unorganized tourism industry must, in the same way as the organized operators, have concrete written plans for how to manage infection prevention responsibly, she emphasizes.

The various operators and businesses are themselves responsible for acting in accordance with the health authorities' requirements and norms, and specifically describe how they shall comply with the infection prevention measures and the Covid-19 regulations.

The Governor will have a legal authority to follow up on these plans to ensure implementation and that they are being followed and have sanctioning opportunities for those who do not follow the rules.

- For the tourism industry, however, there will not be a full opening when a date is set for travellers to visit Svalbard again, but a reduced offer compared to earlier. We are talking about approaching a new normality, says the Governor.

- The new quarantine provisions have been submitted to the infection control doctor at Longyearbyen hospital and the Longyearbyen Community Council, who have no comments on the decision.

The quarantine decision can be reintroduced, in consultation with the infection control doctor, for all travellers to Svalbard if this is deemed necessary. New guidelines from central authorities may lead to changes in the decision.

- We emphasize the importance of following the national rules on infection prevention in order to avoid outbreaks in Svalbard, says Kjerstin Askholt.