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Santas adjust traditional holiday visits with families due to COVID-19

Families and Santa Claus are now getting creative on how to spread Christmas cheer.

ATLANTA — Traditions like holiday Santa visits aren’t spared in this year’s pandemic. Santa Claus and families are now getting creative on how to spread Christmas cheer.

“When we leave the North Pole, we do have to worry about that,” said Santa Rick in Atlanta.

Santa Rick said this year is the first in five decades, he’s had to make these kinds of adjustments.

“This is an amazing event that’s happening throughout the world. The deal with Santa this year is it’s a no-touch year. Basically, no one can sit on Santa’s knee and no one can hug Santa,” he said.

Those changes are coming to metro-Atlanta malls too, where Santas take pictures with families.

At Lenox Square in Atlanta, families are encouraged to make reservations for a socially-distanced experience. Santa and their helpers will wears masks and “guests are required to wear masks where mandated by local health authorities and government agencies”.

Cumberland Mall in Cobb County requires reservations for a contactless visit. Masks for both guests and Santas are required. 

On Cumberland Mall’s Facebook page, it even encourages a virtual visit with Santa through Alpharetta-based company “JingleRing”.

These safety measures are not surprising for Santa Rick.

“Santa, at a small event going from home to home, he’ll see maybe half a dozen homes in a day which means 30 to 50 people. If he’s at a public event he can see hundreds or even a thousand people so we need to make sure Santa doesn’t become a super spreader,” said Santa Rick.

Santa Rick also owns the Northern Lights Santa Academy. He said COVID-19 forced them to cancel Santa school in the spring and fall this year.