Norway islanders want to go ‘time-free’ when sun doesn’t set

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AP I NOR ARCTIC BONANZA

FILE – In this undated file photo, a cold winter’s day in Tromsoe, the main city of Norway’s Arctic. Sitting about 70 Km (43 miles) west of Tromsoe, the island of Sommaroey, north of the Arctic Circle, has a population of about 350 people and fishery and tourism are the main industry. People on the remote island of Sommaroey, north of the Arctic Circle, on June 13, 2019, have asked Norwegian lawmaker if they can become the world’s first time-free zone, getting rid of traditional business opening hours and introduce flexibility in school and working hours because the sun doesn’t set for 69-days from May 18 to July 26. (AP Photo / Doug Mellgren, FILE)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Residents of a Norwegian island where the sun doesn’t set for 69 days of the year want to go “time-free” and have more flexible school and working hours to make the most of their long summer days.

People on the island of Sommaroey are pushing to get rid of traditional business hours and “conventional time-keeping” during the midnight sun period that lasts from May 18 to July 26, resident Kjell Ove Hveding said Wednesday.

Hveding met with a Norwegian lawmaker this month to present a petition signed by dozens of islanders in support of declaring a “time-free zone” and to discuss any practical and legal obstacles to basically ignoring what clocks say about day and night.

“It’s a bit crazy, but at the same it is pretty serious,” he said.

Sommaroey, which lies north of the Arctic Circle, stays dark from November to January. The idea behind the time-free zone is that disregarding timepieces would make it easier for residents, especially students, employers and workers, to make the most of the precious months when the opposite is true.

Going off the clock “is a great solution but we likely won’t become an entirely time-free zone as it will be too complex,” Hveding said. “But we have put the time element on the agenda, and we might get more flexibility … to adjust to the daylight.”

“The idea is also to chill out. I have seen people suffering from stress because they were pressed by time,” he said.

Sitting west of Tromsoe, the island has a population of 350. Fishery and tourism are the main industries.

Finland last year lobbied for the abolition of European Union daylight savings time after a citizens’ initiative collected more than 70,000 signatures.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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