“Neither passengers nor crew have come onshore in Longyearbyen, Barentsburg or Ny-Ålesund during the two cruises in our waters in July”, says Visit Svalbard Manager Ronny Brunvoll.
So far, 41 persons have been confirmed infected in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak on the expedition vessel 'MS Roald Amundsen', which is currently docked in Tromsø after two Svalbard cruises; 36 crew members and five passengers.
Given the situation related to the Covid-19 outbreak on the Hurtigruten vessel, Visit Svalbard wants to stress that neither passengers nor crew have been onshore in Longyearbyen, Barentsburg or Ny-Ålesund during the two cruises in Svalbard waters in July.
“The outbreak has thus not had any effect on the local infection situation. The voyages have taken place in Svalbard waters and land entering has only taken place outside settlements”, Brunvoll says.
Brunvoll argues that this is not sufficiently clear from media coverage of the situation and worries tht this shall leave the public with an impression that passengers and crew have been in touch with the local population – beyond the two known cases located in an outback trappers cabin – and that there thus may be increased infection risk in Svalbard.
Land entering has only taken place outside Svalbard settlements
“That is not the case, however, we fear it shall appear true and thus led to further challenges for a tourist industry in Longyearbyen that is already under much pressure”, Brunvoll says.
The two women in the trappers cabin have reported through social media that they have tested negative for Covid-19. So far, there have been no confirmed cases in Longyearbyen. The town’s tourist industry companies are open, operating with strict infection control measures approved by Norwegian authorities, which Brunvoll says has worked well since the 1 June re-opening for visitors.
“Measures include capacity limitations for accommodation, restaurant and activity operators. tourism in June and July has therefore run smooth and with fully satisfied guests. Now we hope that Norwegian guests will find us in August and September too”, Ronny Brunvoll says in closing.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.