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Ho, ho — Whoa! Virus keeping most Santas at a distance

Santa Claus waves at children and their families from behind a transparent barrier at Bass Pro Shops, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Miami. This is Santa Claus in the Coronavirus Age, where visits are done with layers of protection or moved online. Putting hundreds of kids a day onto your lap to talk directly into your face — that's not happening. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Santa Claus waves at children and their families from behind a transparent barrier at Bass Pro Shops, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Miami. This is Santa Claus in the Coronavirus Age, where visits are done with layers of protection or moved online. Putting hundreds of kids a day onto your lap to talk directly into your face — that's not happening. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MIAMI – Portraying Santa Claus in the Coronavirus Age requires many precautions.

Being over 60 and chunky might make for a perfect Santa, but could also signal the kinds of underlying physical conditions that lead to serious complications from the virus.

That has Santas this year wearing masks and face shields, sitting behind glass or visiting with children online. One thing few are doing: putting children on their laps for face-to-face conversations.

The pandemic is hurting many Santas — not only financially with reduced performances, but emotionally.

The men who portray St. Nick say they like bringing joy to children. That’s hard to do when sitting behind a glass.

Bass Pro Shops is one of the businesses that are still bringing Santa into their stores this year, but like others, he is sitting behind a glass partition and wearing a face shield, and children or families can have their photo taken just in front of him.

This year, advance reservations are required in all locations and can be made online.

Those who visit Santa at any Bass Pro store will receive a free 4x6 studio-quality photo, as well as a free shareable video when you provide your email address. Additional photo packages are also available for purchase.


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