CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We are just days away from Christmas and Santa Claus coming to town. For those who want to get a jump start on the holiday spirit, your traditions may include a visit with jolly old Saint Nick.
But the big question this year: is it safe?
Santa is keeping an eye on the naughty and nice list from a distance.
Businesses across the country and in the Charlotte area are changing up visits with Kris Kringle.
"You really can't sit on Santa's lap," Dr. Gina Robinson, MD, a pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said. "I don't think you can do that safely, even if Santa is wearing a mask and you're wearing a mask because obviously you're not six feet away."
Eastridge Mall's Santa said he will still be sitting in his big red chair but kids won't sit on his lap. Instead, they'll be on a bench in front, and everyone must wear a mask unless the child is under the age of five.
There will be hand sanitizer, and everyone must wait six feet apart.
Several malls in the Charlotte area are also asking families to make a reservation online ahead of time.
But to be extra careful, doctors recommend doing a virtual visit, letting little ones share their wish lists with Santa online instead.
"We've all gotten so used to doing that with family and friends." "Doing family meetings virtually, being in online classroom settings virtually, so I think that'll blend seamlessly into what we've already gotten used to doing," Dr. Robinson said.
Last week, the World Health Organization announced COVID restrictions have been relaxed for Santa to deliver presents around the world.
"I can tell you that Santa Claus is immune to this virus," Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove with the World Health Organization said.
Officials added that children must still social distance and go to bed early on Christmas Eve for Santa to do his job this year.