Government to provide fixed-term benefits scheme for foreign employees in Longyearbyen

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The Government announces a fixed-term benefits scheme for foreign employees in Longyearbyen whose income is suspended due to the current corona virus epidemic.

Following the current restrictions on travel as a response to the outbreak of Covid-19 worldwide, much of the travel and leisure industry activity in Svalbard has come to an immediate halt. Temporary suspension of employment in the travel industry has subsequently commenced.

Certain elements of the national economic measures initiated to reduce the negative impact of the current economic situation will apply to Svalbard as to the nation in general. However the conditions in Svalbard are specific in several aspects, and not all of the incentives provided for the mainland will be applicable in the archipelago. Among these is that not all foreign nationals are covered by the national temporary suspension measures.

- We are currently preparing a fixed-term benefit scheme for Longyearbyen. This will ensure a certain level of income for foreign nationals in Longyearbyen not covered by the national measures and whose employment is temporarily suspended due to the outbreak of the Corona virus. This will aid in alleviating the acute and difficult situation which some are now experiencing, Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland (H) states.

An increasing number of employees in Svalbard are temporarily suspended from their positions. The travel and leisure industry is particularly affected by temporary suspensions, yet other industries are also distressed following the effects of the Corona virus outbreak.

- We have established a productive communication with Longyearbyen Community Council. The Council has provided constructive input which we will take into account when assessing possible further measures to relieve the current situation in Longyearbyen, states Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø (V).

The benefit scheme is initiated in order to meet essential needs in a unique and extraordinary situation. The measure will be strictly fixed term-based, and does not provide a basis for future precedent. A reconsideration of the measure will remain possible should there be a change in the current situation.

- The Government is monitoring the situation in Svalbard closely. We acknowledge that the Longyearbyen community is considerably affected by the current crisis. We have established an ongoing communication with the Governor of Svalbard and Longyearbyen Community Council regarding the situation, states Minister of Agriculture and Food Olaug Bollestad (KrF).