How Will Santa Handle a Covid Christmas?

Insight Online News

By Melissa Korn

Six-year-old Amy Kidd worried that if Rudolph got Covid-19, it would spread to the other reindeer, and Santa Claus wouldn’t be able to travel from the North Pole to deliver Christmas gifts around the world.

Her own family’s trip from their home in Papamoa Beach, New Zealand, to Ireland had been scrapped; global transit seemed impossible.

Amy’s sister, 8-year-old Zoe, jumped in with plausible words of reassurance. Mrs. Claus made some Christmas-themed masks that were magic, she explained, according to their mother, Emma Power. The masks would protect the reindeer and Mr. Claus from the virus.

For extra cover, the family will leave hand sanitizer next to the cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph.

The fibs people tell about Santa Claus are numerous, including (shh!) that he exists and drops presents off at homes across the globe in a single night.

This year the ruse is getting more elaborate, with parents, siblings and others explaining just how Santa can make his rounds safely during the pandemic, along with his trusted elves and flying reindeer.

Given that Mr. Claus is older and overweight, making him particularly vulnerable were he to catch the virus, kids want to know: Does he need to quarantine before traveling? Is he allowed into people’s homes? Will he be sporting a mask? And just how much hand sanitizer is appropriate to leave out for him?

Amy and Zoe’s brother, Ryan, gave Santa explicit directions in his annual letter. “Look, you better be wearing a mask,” the 11-year-old wrote.

A 5-year-old boy asked Italy’s prime minister, Guiseppe Conte, to provide the paperwork justifying Santa’s travel, as required for people in the country’s lockdown zones.

“I know that Santa Claus is old and it’s dangerous to go into homes but he is good and for sure he will wear a face mask to protect himself,” wrote the boy, Tommaso, whose note was posted on the prime minister’s Facebook page.

Mr. Conte responded that Santa will indeed have the necessary documentation. He added he had assured Santa that Tommaso had been a good boy, as had all of the children, in “a very difficult year.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared Santa an essential worker, still able to go out for deliveries when much of the rest of the country is under enhanced restrictions.

In any case, Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained to USA Today that Santa has an “innate immunity” to the virus.

A recent conversation about the fireplace at Jason Griffin’s Atascocita, Texas, home led his son, 5-year-old Isaac, not to seek reassurance about Santa’s safety but rather to offer it.

“We were joking about making sure we didn’t have a fire on Christmas Eve so it wouldn’t be too hot for Santa to come down,” Mr. Griffin said.

The boy piped in, “If it’s hot, he might yell. I’ll hear him and come downstairs. But don’t worry, Dad, I’ll make sure to back up and give him space so I don’t get him sick,” Mr. Griffin recalled.

John Torres, a medical correspondent for the “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” earlier this month offered young viewers a rundown of safety protocols in place at the North Pole: Santa and his helpers are staying in pods, getting tested regularly and will quarantine starting Dec. 10, to be ready for their trip 14 days later.

The big man himself will mask up and sanitize before heading down the chimney, then quickly depart from each home, Dr. Torres said.

The Trump administration considered but then scrapped an offer of early vaccines to Santa Claus performers, as well as to Mrs. Claus and elf actors, as part of an ad campaign promoting the benefits of vaccination.

Meanwhile, mandatory quarantine for the Elf on the Shelf is providing a reprieve for parents tired of coming up with new places to prop the ubiquitous dolls, which serve as Santa’s snitches and keep an eye on kids’ behavior ahead of Christmas.

Samantha Sladich Reich began assembling large Mason jars outfitted with fake snow, an elf-sized mask and a quarantine countdown calendar in the dining room of her New Lenox, lll., home, after seeing the idea in a crafting group. She fulfilled more than 275 orders before Thanksgiving.

“Even though elves can’t get sick, we just want to make sure,” Ms. Reich said she told her own children, as her dining table was taken over by craft supplies. The elves can also set a good example by taking public-health recommendations seriously, and could make human quarantine less lonely.

“The poor kid who gets quarantined—if his elf is quarantined too, it might make him feel a little better,” she said.

The creators of Elf on the Shelf say there’s no need to lock him away.

“All Scout Elves are 100% healthy and remain well at the North Pole,” Lumistella Co. wrote on its elf website, saying the message came straight from Santa. “Since Scout Elves are magical beings from the North Pole, they do not get human sicknesses and do not need to quarantine!”

They’re perfectly happy to accept the customs of their adopted families, though, the letter said. The company provides tiny printable masks.

Malinda Coddington and her husband bought an Elf on the Shelf for their two youngest kids, ages 7 and 9, this year. He arrived in mid-November and is quarantining in a clear plastic box for two weeks. The family just finished its own quarantine after Mr. Coddington tested positive for Covid-19.

The doll has an elf-size mask and will keep it on throughout his stay, to comply with Pennsylvania rules requiring masks when indoors around anyone who’s not a member of the household.

“We want him to be safe and keep others safe when he returns” to the North Pole, or rather to the garage, after Christmas, Ms. Coddington said. “He doesn’t want to infect the other elves.”


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