Tourists arrived at Spitsbergen in March, when there is high winter season: you can go Snowmobiling in the mountains and on ships in the is-fjord. However, the coronavirus has strongly opposed Arctic journeys.
I left the island the next day after the start of quarantine, having on the last scheduled flight, so the first steps of isolation of the archipelago were introduced to my eyes.
Why Norway violates the Agreement with Russia on Svalbard
it All began March 12, when the Norwegian authorities issued a decree not to take tourists wishing to leave the island on Board of the aircraft. So, Russian-speaking Israeli team was not allowed on the flight SAS Longyearbyen – Oslo, which was supposed to fly on the morning of 15 March. Instead, I told the group leader Marika Katz, they were denied departure, referring to the decree of the Governor of the archipelago, that all the guests of Spitsbergen and hotel guests, who arrived on the archipelago after February 27, excluded from the number of passengers. It is proposed to wait until the authorities can arrange private transportation for evacuation, but when will it be – is unclear. However, the cost for unscheduled residence authorities have promised to take. The yield from hotel to the forbidden city, a maximum – you can smoke on the porch. The streets are patrolled by police on snowmobiles to make sure that tourists do not violate quarantine laws. “We remain in the Russian hostel “Russian house” in Longyearbyen and very grateful that we are helping Russian companies in the Spitsbergen trust “Arktikugol” and travel company “Grumant,” said Katz. They keep us informed of developments and supplied with food.”
Earlier it became known that the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna, Solberg ordered the closure of the country because of the coronavirus, and all who entered the Kingdom from the otherswhich escandinavia countries after 27 February, subject to a two-week quarantine. And just arrived will be sent back, not giving even set foot on Norwegian soil. But, as usually happens in unusual situations (emergency call it is still not worth it), nobody really did not know and did not understand. Immediately spread a variety of rumors. If the exit of the archipelago is now closed, and everyone who came here from the mainland, isolated in several abandoned wooden houses in the suburbs, and in these small houses heating have not been tested. When the wind in the street, a Blizzard and the comfort temperature minus 30, the heat issue becomes paramount.
I heard an imposed quarantine from the staff of a small hotel “Marie Anne” just in time for dinner. This small and affordable hostel, decorated with maps of the ventilation systems with the Soviet mine “Pyramid” and a stuffed polar bear-teen in the Boxing gloves, is located near the city centre, if you count Longyearbyen with a population of 2,600 city. It was inexpensive and Breakfast so popular among those who need to spend one night in the capital of Spitsbergen. There all the time pushing people from many different countries of the world, admire the beauty of the archipelago, show each other the signs of frostbite and remember, what was the weather on the glacier dome of the University.
Another thing Svalbard – all of the island’s population of 2600 people, places insulation where there is little, so the authorities have to act tougher
But when they announced the quarantine, all was not delighted. The image of harsh polar explorers gave coronavirus crack. Because it’s one thing to go Snowmobiling in the paid round, and another to be locked indefinitely near the North pole at the mercy of the Norwegian authorities, in the area where heat is outside the settlements it is forbidden to go without weapons, in case of encounters with polar bears.
Staff “Anne Marie” has demanded from all urgently to leave the restaurant and lock themselves in rooms to further orders. Well, I had a soft cheesecake with lingonberry jam and I was able to quickly swallow. But the neighboring table had just brought the steak from the whale.
“what do you think, this is the day of judgment?” asked the old skinny Swede in red pants, drinking a cocktail. “Wait, riders have not yet seen” I replied uncertainly and went to wait for development of events in their five-room, where the wall is drawn a polar bear in a waistcoat and top hat, similar to Lord Curzon. Outside the window just started an evening snowstorm, raised up a storm wind from the fjord. Typical for Spitsbergen in March, the coldest month of the year. God bless in this weather those in the mountains on snowmobiles, as well as the elderly mangy Fox that’s been hanging outside my window.
Russia closed the land border with Norway and Poland
night was coming and the news was not all. I looked out the window at the rare lights through a Blizzard. Finally someone knocked on the door. It was a girl with them. “Stay in the room, she said. Don’t worry, the government will take care of you”.
can’t say that the care from the government of Norway was among my priorities. “But I’m from Russia, we normally, there is no epidemic,” he assured me.
“Sorry,” he sympathized with the girl and carried the bad news to the other rooms. It seemed to me that painted on the wall of the bear in the cylinder he looked at me and licked his lips.
morning news is still not there, and even gave Breakfast. Guests asked each other, can not hear anything. But no one knew anything.
So it will not work, I decided, and leaving the key in the room door, and went with a suitcase to a bus stopthe obus to the airport, waiting for cries of “Stop” and the police. But nothing happened. I safely got to the airport, being in the crowd of those who took the time to leave Svalbard. There were fears that the entrance of the airport deployed and sent back to the hotel, but at a cost, in the departure lounge there was not even any police. Next to me stood a group of men of poles. It turned out, the guys arrived only the day before, but realizing and seeing everything, I decided to come back. Now they stood at the airport without a ticket and without a clear understanding of the route. When I’m with them saying goodbye, they thought how to get to Warsaw. I was advised via Riga. I do not know if it helped them with my advice.
Ahead was the mysterious threatening Oslo. On a variety of information was that there immediately after the passage of the boundaries of all foreign escandinavo be met and driven to the quarantine, maybe even the Luggage is not allowed to pick. And it is unclear how to avoid this.
after 2 hours and 40 minutes staring at the snow-covered mountains, ice and clouds in the window we landed in Oslo.
compared to the tension on Svalbard in the Norwegian capital, everything was surprisingly calm. No one was caught and locked in quarantine. I wanted to find out from the black of the guard, what to do. “What do I know – surprised that. – You came here for some reason, so keep walking”.
I furtively took the suitcase with tape baggage. At the exit of the arrival hall surrounded with benches, stood a statue of coronavirus (maybe actually meant the birth of a galaxy or something, but circumstances shape the perception). “Oh, I thought, here would be the place to pick up in quarantine”. But no, it was quiet and open. The virus resembled only posters around the airport calling for the isolation and appeals to observe hygiene. No containers with disinfectant in the field of view was not.
In the departure lounge quite sparsely populated. In fact, international airport of Gardermoen in Oslo – largeth hub, but due to the cancellation of dozens of flights he fell silent. At the front of “Aeroflot” explained to me that, according to the latest data, the movement of people in the city are not restricted, but, on arriving at the hotel, you should lock yourself in a room and sit there, and then in due time to leave for the airport. Walking is not permitted, especially in public places. A local resident, if he didn’t come from the Scandinavian countries, have to go straight home and sit there for 14 days. “But do not confuse the quarantine and isolation, – said the representative of the Russian airline. Insulation – a room in a closed ward in a hospital, a quarantine with respect to voluntary minimizing contacts with the surrounding”.
it is very much in mainland Norway, it seems, is designed for integrity, civic consciousness and discipline. No one will force or follow you, you have to understand that risk or to infect someone or get infected yourself if you do not meet the requirements. Another thing Svalbard – all of the island’s population of 2600 people, places insulation where there is little, so the authorities have to act tougher. As of March 16, in the archipelago there were only local residents and those in long-term missions. They are allowed to move between settlements in the archipelago. No case of coronavirus in the archipelago are not registered. However, Longyearbyen still has tightened the rules, now anyone who returns to Svalbard from outside Norway, it is necessary to spend two weeks in quarantine on the mainland. An exception may be made for the people, on which depends the normal functioning of vital systems in the archipelago, but to decide in each individual case personally to the Governor.