Santa will still be able to deliver gifts to children this year, B.C.’s top doctor said Thursday.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the chief provincial health officer, says Santa Claus is “probably” immune to COVID-19, but Christmas will still look a little different this year.
She says health officials are trying to determine how they can facilitate Santa’s visits because he’s going to be washing his hands a lot and probably won’t be eating cookies and milk in every house, but they will find ways of making it work.
Henry says there won’t be a vaccine by Christmas to save the day, but people can do a number of small things to celebrate in a safe way, especially to protect elders.
She says the virus spreads more easily in cooler weather, particularly when people are inside, which is why it’s so important for people to reduce their contacts and step up their safety measures.
The news about Santa Claus came as B.C. surpassed 20,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Over in Europe, Italy’s prime minister also reassured children that Santa will be coming this year amid the pandemic.
Giuseppe Conte was responding to a letter by five-year-old Tommaso who had pleaded with him not to put “Babbo Natale,” (Santa) in lockdown.
“Father Christmas assured me that he already has an international travel certificate: he can travel everywhere and distribute gifts to all the world’s children,” Conte wrote.
“He confirmed to me that he always uses a mask and maintains a correct distance to protect himself and everyone he meets,” Conte added.
Conte suggested to the young boy put out a bottle of hand-sanitizing gel under the tree, along with warm milk and biscuits.
“I’m letting you know that it won’t be necessary to tell Father Christmas that you were good in your letter, because I already told him,” Conte wrote.
“I also found out that you wanted to ask Father Christmas to chase away the coronavirus. Don’t forget to ask for another present.”
Italy was the first European country hit hard by COVID-19 earlier and like B.C., has seen a surge in cases. According to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the country has recorded more than 1.1 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 44,000 COVID-19 deaths.
With files from The Canadian Press