The government has banned tourism activities, such as cruises, on Svalbard until November 1.
The ban does not apply to day-cruises and cruises that start and end on Svalbard. It also does not apply to vessels that have a maximum of 30 people on board, and where accommodation is included as part of the cruise.
– Infection on cruise ships require large resources to limit outbreaks and entail a number of practical challenges. This is especially true on Svalbard, where cruise operations involve special challenges for both health and rescue preparedness. Therefore, it is necessary to change the rules in order to lower the risks of a similar outbreak as on the Hurtigruten, says Minister of Health Bent Høie (H) in a press release.
The rules will initially last until 1 November.
Recommendations from the Norwegian Directorate of Health
In June the government opened the way for coastal and expedition cruises to be carried out on Svalbard. Following an infection outbreak on Hurtigruten, the Norwegian Directorate of Health has been commissioned to assess whether the regulations and guidelines related to coastal cruises should be changed.
In its assessment, the Norwegian Directorate of Health has concluded that it is appropriate to introduce a ban on the implementation of tourism activities in the form of cruises on Svalbard with a few exceptions.
The government is following up on the recommendations from the directorate and regulating a ban on cruises to Svalbard.
Guide for coastal cruises
The press release from the government further states that companies that offer day trips by boat, must still follow the requirements in the guide for tourism on Svalbard.
Companies that offer cruises that meet the criteria of up to 30 people and accommodation as part of the cruise must follow the requirements in the guide, including the requirement that the boats must be able to return to the mainland if infection occurs on board.
The government will make an evaluation of the regulatory change by the end of October.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today