Norwegian Island Wants to Become a Time-Free Zone

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. formalize / ˈfɔr məˌlaɪz / (v) – to make a plan or an arrangement official

    Employees must sign a contract to formalize their employment.

  2. put (something) forward / pʊt ˈfɔr wərd / (idiom) – to propose something

    The HR department put a new attendance policy forward.

  3. timekeeping / ˈtaɪmˌkiːpɪŋ / (n) – the process of monitoring time

    It’s important to improve your timekeeping so that you won’t be late.

  4. 24/7 / ˈtwɛn tiˌfɔr ˈsɛv ən / (adv) – constantly

    The fast food restaurant is open 24/7, so you can eat there even at 3 o’clock in the morning.

  5. skeptical / ˈskɛp tɪ kəl / (adj) – doubtful

    Diane is skeptical about the promo; she thinks that getting a vacation for free is too good to be true.


Read the text below.

Residents of Sommarøy [suhMEH-roy], Norway, are campaigning to make the island the first time-free zone in the world.

To formalize the campaign, the residents signed a petition and put it forward to a  parliament member on June 13. If the initiative pushes through, the island would no longer follow the traditional timekeeping. This means that residents would be free to do their activities any time they wish, and businesses would have flexible opening and closing hours.

According to the campaign leader, the initiative aims to promote flexibility and liberty among his fellow Sommarøy residents. He explained that timekeeping can feel very limiting for people.

One advocate of the campaign also explained that another main reason for the initiative is that the island experiences daylight 24/7 during summer. From May until July, the sun does not set in Sommarøy, making it difficult to tell day apart from night. Because of this, residents doing chores or swimming and children playing outside are a usual sight at two in the morning.

Truls Wyler, a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, found the campaign fascinating. He said that in ancient times, people only worked as long as necessary and slept when they were tired. In contrast, he noted that people’s activities in the modern times are controlled by the time. Nonetheless, Wyler still thinks that living life without time would be difficult.

A receptionist at a hotel in Sommarøy is also a bit skeptical about the campaign. She said that managing hotel operations, such as check-in and check-out times, would be challenging.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that living in a time-free zone would be effective in promoting flexibility in the lives of Sommarøy residents? Why or why not?
• What do you think are the possible disadvantages of living in a time-free zone? Discuss.

Discussion B

• If you lived in a time-free zone, what activities would you do? Explain.
• How would you manage your schedule in a time-free zone? Discuss.