Experts Really Want You To Rethink Your Santa Visit This Year
'Tis the season for new traditions, am I right?
The tradition of visiting Santa has been a beloved (and sometimes awkward) part of holiday celebrations since the 1890s, but as with everything in 2020, this tradition may change. Is it safe to visit Santa this year since COVID cases are on the rise once again? It’s hard to maintain social distancing if you’re sitting in someone’s lap, right?
Immunologist Robert Quigley urges everyone to “forego” this particular tradition this year, because it puts everyone involved at high risk for exposure to coronavirus. “Traditionally, visiting Santa includes sitting on his lap to make wishes and get a photo, which breaches social distancing guidelines, as you should keep 6 feet away from anyone not in your household,” Quigley says. “Santa infecting a youngster is one thing but if Santa is elderly — CDC indicates illness risks increase with age — it would be unfortunate if the asymptomatic youngster infected Santa.”
There are some locations like Bass Pro Shops that are offering “contactless” experiences for folks to still visit Santa. Santa sits behind a clear “shield,” wearing a protective visor, and kids can talk to him through the glass. While this safer way may sound like visiting hours at a prison (it actually looks totally fine!), there are other ways to keep Santa’s spirit alive, and everyone healthy and safe this year, according to the experts.
Quigley suggests having Santa Claus call your child to speak to them over the phone. I can attest that this works wonderfully and was probably the reason I believed until I was 10. Santa always called me every single year, and now he calls my son. We even hear Santa’s sleigh bells in the background.
Bruce Weng, an infectious disease expert, tells Romper, “If one must go visit Santa, I would ensure that everyone wears a mask, including Santa. There should be readily available hand-sanitizer and there should also be appropriate social distancing with limited contact with others in a line. Typically these are indoors, so if able to hold outdoors, that would be somewhat better.”
Weng also says to ensure that there’s a limit to the amount of people being able to go into the meet-and-greet area in an indoor setting. “We saw that polling locations were able to do this with masking and distancing, despite the large turnouts.”
You may want to skip this tradition this year to be safe, and opt for a personal phone call instead or one of the many virtual Santa experiences available out there. Weng says that we should expect COVID cases to continue to increase throughout December. And I know of a certain someone who may be able to help you perfect the Santa voice and bell usage to bring your kids the magic at home. I can guarantee your kid's face will still light up, even if you have to take your Santa photo through FaceTime this year.