You know Christmas is coming when it starts to get a little chilly, the decorations come out and, of course, when Santa Claus comes to town.
At Montreal’s Place Versailles shopping centre, Santa’s kingdom is already set up. Saint Nick is welcoming kids and families to take a seat and have their photo taken together.
And though the photo may look like the child is sitting on Santa’s lap — that long-time tradition is no longer allowed.
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“Sometimes all the kids, they’re rushing on you and they want to grab you,” said Santa Claus at Place Versailles. “It’s bad because we have to pull them back a bit, but that’s life now.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed how we visit Santa.
In the past, there have been virtual visits with Father Christmas. Last year, most places had Santa masked and stay two metres away.
Kids can get a little closer this season but with a cocktail of viruses circulating, there are still measures in place to protect both families and Santa himself.
“It’s not just COVID, it’s also the flu, it’s also RSV (respiratory syncytial virus),” said epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Labos. “While most people will probably be OK, a significant minority will not. And if you have a bunch of people coming into contact with each other, well that’s probably not ideal.”
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Pierre Heroux, who co-owns a Santa Claus agency in Quebec, says it seems like sitting on Santa’s lap may be a thing of the past.
His clients are taking precautions everywhere they can.
“They also ask that our elves wear a mask, since they’re not the main attraction,” said Heroux. “Even Mother Claus can wear a mask.”
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