Santa Claus is back at the mall with COVID restrictions in place

'This year, we’re pretty excited to have Santa back from the North Pole'

Jane Stevenson 2 minute read December 5, 2021

To quote Will Ferrell as the excitable titular character in Elf: “Santa’s coming!”

After Old Saint Nick had to give holiday mall visits a pass in 2020 due to COVID-19, Santa Claus is back asking those both naughty and nice what they want for Christmas this year.

Cadillac Fairview, one of the country’s largest mall owner/operators, has four in the GTA alone — CF Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke, CF Toronto Eaton Centre in downtown T.O., CF Markville in Markham and CF Fairview Mall in North York, — where Santa Claus began visits with the young and young as heart at his log cabin in the North Pole as early as Nov. 19 and will continue to until Dec. 24.

“Last year we were unable to run Santa unfortunately due to COVID, ” said Andrea Nickel, CF’s director of customer experience and marketing communications.

“But this year, we’re pretty excited to have Santa back from the North Pole and to be able to have that magical moment for families and especially kids in a very safe way. Kids did really suffer during the pandemic a lot.”

But because we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, with the omicron variant now a new concern, even Santa and his elves will have COVID-19 protocols.

“Reservations (spaced 10 minutes apart) are required and this allows us to do contact tracing,” said Nickel.

“As well we have the COVID pre-screen that happens. All of our Santas and his elves are all vaccinated and will be wearing masks on set. And having distancing as much as possible. Our guests are required to be masked (but not double vaxxed) as per public health restrictions and the set is cleaned in between each visit.”

Nickel says they’ve set it up so that children can still get that photo (packages range from $40-$50 beyond the $5 charitable donation to just visit) with Santa, seated in a big chair, but at a distance either on a log stool or a Muskoka chair.

“They can be close enough for a great picture but still distanced to follow some of the restrictions that we’re adhering to.”

So no sitting on Santa’s lap this year?

“Unfortunately, not this year,” said Nickel. “Hopefully, that can be an option or choice for people next year.”

And if you don’t feel comfortable about an in-person visit with Santa, there’s also CF Storytime with Santa on each local property’s Facebook Live channels so he can be visited from the comfort of your own home.

The next one is happening Dec. 18

“It’s about a 20 minute show,” said Nickel.


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