News Opinion/Commentary

New rules introduced for Santa and family photos

Santa holding a small coffee cup
Image: iStock

Santa is coming to town.

But the lead up to Christmas is going to be different this year.

Herald Sun reported that Westfield has introduced strict COVID safe guidelines when Santa comes to town.

Strict social distancing guidelines will apply for both adults and children.

Children will not be able to sit on Santa’s lap, regardless of age. Instead, they will sit 1.5m (4.92 ft) away from Santa. It’s also possible that face masks will have to worn in all States and Territories, except Western Australia.

Also, interactions with Santa will need to be booked in advance. This is to avoid crowds.

Despite these restrictions, people are still optimistic.

Group General Manager of Centre Experience, Lillian Fadel said:

We’re delighted to be welcoming Santa to our centres to meet families this festive season.

Five – year – old, Mia Angell is excited.

I have been a little bit naughty, but a lot nicer. I am very excited to see Santa because he gives me presents.

Proof of vaccination

Staff will ask shoppers over the age of 16 to show proof of double vaccination. This will happen as shoppers enter.

Well it’s not ‘essential shopping’. So… I guess, I get it.

Changes to family photos

Family photos will also change. Retailers are asking families to remain social distanced. Photographers will make the photos landscape, rather than portrait.


Some Herald Sun commenters aren’t happy. One complained that this will make the family photos more expensive.

They have also pointed out inconsistencies. TheVictorian Government has allowed the Melbourne Cup, where thousands of people will be.

I get distance between the families and the photographer. But the families themselves?

When will it end?

I get it. COVID-19 is still around. It’s still infecting people around the world.

When is enough, enough? When will people be genuinely free? Frankly, it makes efforts that people have made look pointless.

What about vaccines?

New South Wales have already surpassed 80% double vaccination goal. 55.5% of people in Victoria are fully vaccinated.

I thought the whole point of vaccinations was going back to ‘normal’.

So, it should be OK for children in NSW to sit on Santa’s lap. Right?

Why do children have to be social distanced? Is it because children below 16 can’t get vaccinated (for now)?

In further news…

According to Forbes, malls in the US have tried to implement similar restrictions.

Children are expected to social distance from Santa and sit behind a protective window or dome. In some malls, Santa will be given a mask.

Also, for the rest of the year, US shoppers are expected to avoid shopping at malls, or only go once.

Shopper tracking firm, Sensormatic predicted a 22 to 25% drop in shoppers compared to 2019.


It seems like we need to live with this long term. The virus is not going to go away. The restrictions are not going to to away, either.

I’m glad that children are able to see Santa in stores. It’s better than nothing.

What are your views of these moves by shopping centres? Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


News Opinion/Commentary Social media

YouTube cracks down on misinformation. How far will they go?

YouTube logo
Image: iStock

YouTube has vowed to crack down on vaccine ‘misinformation’.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported YouTube was cracking down on ‘misinformation on the COVID-19 and other vaccines. As a result, YouTube has already removed over 130,000 videos. 

YouTube has seen a worrying trend surrounding vaccine misinformation.

“We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general.

YouTube said they won’t penalise creators for sharing personal experiences. They also promised to allow content that talked ahput vaccine trials and historical successes and failures of vaccines.

Controversial osteopath and lawyer among the banned

YouTube banned American osteopath, Dr Joseph Mercola. 

He lamented on Twitter:

Anyone who asks questions or challenges the hard sell is immediately censored on social media.

Lawyer, Robert F Kennedy has also complained about the crackdown Through a representative, he lamented:

Free speech is the essential core value of a liberal democracy. All other rights and ideals rest upon it. There is no instance in history when censorship and secrecy have advanced either democracy or public health.

These bans have caused outrage overseas. YouTube banned Germany’s RTDE from posting on their channel. YouTube has also banned Russia’s RT channel from uploading further content.

Russia’s foreign ministry has slammed YouTube’s actions as “flagrant censorship and [a] suppression of freedom of expression”.

“Ad – pocalypse”: a reason to be wary

When I first read about this, I was skeptical.

I can’t help but think about what happened in 2016 and 2017. The ‘ad – pocalypse” saw the relationship between content creators and YouTube irreparably damaged. 

For those who don’t know, YouTube cracked down on content they deemed not “family friendly”. One YouTuber that fell victim to this crackdown was Swedish gaming YouTuber, Pewdie Pie. 

In 2017, Ad – pocalypse heated up. Major businesses, such as Amazon and Coca Cola revolted against YouTube after their ads were found on extremist content.

This revolt made Google lose almost US$1billion (US$750million to be exact). 

In response, YouTube cracked down on questionable and “borderline” content. Meaning: everyone who is not CNN or MSNBC have seen their AdSense revenue, views and subscriber count tank or climb at a snail pace.

Content creators have turned to other means of making income, such as Patreon and SubscribeStar to keep afloat. 

Secular Talk‘s Kyle Kulinski has been a vocal critic, claiming that his analytics have suffered ever since.

This is why I’m skeptical about Google’s latest move. Any independent creator with any criticisms or queries about vaccines will probably be penalised. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News will remain favoured by YouTube’s algorithm. 

I find it hard to believe that people who open up about adverse effects from vaccines will not be penalised. YouTube’s algorithm are less than perfect. From my understanding, they rely on tags. Tags don’t usually tell the context of the video.

So, if you talk about the ‘covid vaccine’ as a tag, YouTube may disable AdSense or otherwise penalise you, regardless of your intent.

Big Tech corporations have a habit of going too far when monitoring content. This should make all social media users wary, regardless of your views.

What do you think about Google’s anti – vaccine crackdown? Justified or too far? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.