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Islanders Ask Permission to Ditch Time

Residents of Sommaroey, Norway, want to scrap clocks during stretch of midnight sun
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 20, 2019 11:41 AM CDT
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A file photo of a cold winter's day in Tromsoe, the main city of Norway's Arctic. People on the nearby island of Sommaroey, north of the Arctic Circle, have asked Norwegian lawmaker if they can become the world's first time-free zone.   (AP Photo / Doug Mellgren, FILE)

(Newser) – 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, per the AP. 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, says resident Kjell Ove Hveding. "It's a bit crazy, but at the same it is pretty serious," says Hveding. He 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.

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 says. "But we have put the time element on the agenda, and we might get more flexibility ... to adjust to the daylight." The island, which sits west of Tromsoe, has a population of 350. Fishery and tourism are the main industries.

(Read more Norway stories.)

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