Father Christmas will not have to wear a mask in Santa’s grottos, says No 10

PA Media: UK News

Father Christmas will not need to wear a mask in grottos but children will be barred from sitting on his knees under coronavirus rules, Downing Street has said.

The Government has set out guidance on how to safely carry out festive traditions during the Covid-19 pandemic, including on carol singing and nativity plays.

Grottos are permitted to welcome in children all over England as long as they are in venues that are allowed to open.

No 10 gave further details on Monday as to what steps Father Christmas will and will not have to take in order to be safe this season.

Watch: How to wear a face covering comfortably

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We know that meeting Father Christmas is a magical experience for children which is why he will be taking safety precautions including ensuring that he is operating in a Covid-secure way, but it won’t be required for Santa to wear a mask.”

But he added: “It won’t be permitted for children to sit on his knee as part of the guidance.”

Grottos can open in all areas regardless of what tier they are placed into under the Government’s plans for localised restrictions to replace the national lockdown on Wednesday.

They must take place in venues permitted to open under local rules, but these will include all shops and garden centres because non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen across the nation.

Elsewhere in the guidance, carol singers can go door to door, but only in groups of up to six and while keeping at least two metres away from “the threshold of any dwellings”.

Singers should also keep two metres apart from vocalists they do not live with.

School nativity plays will be allowed to go ahead “within existing school bubbles” but audiences will only be able to attend in Tiers 1 and 2.

Livestreaming is advised in Tier 3.

Watch: Middlesbrough mum takes Santa to surprise local children