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.