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FactFind: How has Santa amended his Christmas preparations to cope with the pandemic?

We’re assured not even a pandemic can quench the magic of Christmas.

Image: Shutterstock/Yuganov Konstantin

IT’S THAT TIME of year again and, in just over a day from now, Santa Claus will be embarking on his annual trip delivering presents to children around the world.

Ireland is one of the many stops on Santa’s list this year with the government announcing last week that he had been given clearance to enter Irish airspace. 

At TheJournal.ie, in previous years we have looked at just how letters manage to reach Santa in time for Christmas Eve, how he manages to make all the toys, and how he’s able to go around the world in a single night

In this factfind, we’ll take a look at how Santa and his helpers have adapted during a year where Covid-19 has disrupted so much. 

Santa’s workshop

On 12 March, then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that all schools would close and that people should work from home as the first major virus restrictions were brought into effect in Ireland. 

In the North Pole, although to date no confirmed cases have been reported, Santa ordered strict public health guidelines to be brought into effect in his workshop to help mitigate the risk. 

All of Santa’s elves have a claus(e) in their contract to ensure the highest health and safety standards while at work.

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A North Pole spokesperson told TheJournal.ie: “We start preparing for next Christmas on St Stephen’s Day every year. So we had just had a good two-and-a-half months before this all happened. 

From that time, we implemented strict social distancing in the workshop, and mask wearing soon after that. While it has slowed down toy production, we are fully prepared to meet demand this year and make sure that children will have presents under their trees and in Christmas stockings this year.

The workforce in Santa’s workshop is 1,200-strong and is used to working quickly and efficiently. There’s a range of expertise among the team.

Alongside the trained toymakers, there’s also essential admin staff who’s job it is to keep track of letters coming, make sure that Santa’s flight plans are in order before he embarks on his trip, and – most importantly – ensure the elves stay healthy and happy.

“There’s no doubt we’ve all had to work harder this year to make sure that we protect each other from Covid-19,” the spokesperson said. “But it’s only right.

So many people from doctors, nurses, teachers, gardaí, construction workers, people at desks at home – everyone’s worked so hard this year. Even for people who sadly couldn’t work due to the restrictions in their country. It’s been a tough year. But our hope here is that Christmas can be as good as possible for as many people as possible this year, no matter their situation.

One thing that’s not changed this year is Santa’s insistence on checking every name on his list – and the legends are true, he does check it twice – to see who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.

The spokesperson added: “It’s still not too late to get on the naughty list. Yule be sorry if you’re put it on this close to Christmas.”

Trip around the world

As well as the toymaking, the main thrust of Santa’s work is actually delivering the presents themselves. 

With different countries under different kinds of restrictions, that represents a logistical challenge. 

Speaking earlier this month, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said health authorities in Ireland were aware of the extra precautions he’d taken this year.

Furthermore, the North Pole spokesperson provided assurances that Santa would be adhering to all necessary public health guidelines during his journey.

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“The sleigh is deep cleaned before Santa gets on,” the spokesperson said. “The reins are constantly wiped down, and Santa has hand sanitiser right beside him to use every few minutes.

When he goes to each house or apartment or wherever it is a child happens to be in the early hours of the 25 December, Santa will wear a mask, wash his hands before going in and take extra care not to make a sound to ensure no one sees him and he doesn’t come into contact with anyone else. He’s been doing it for hundreds of years at this stage so it won’t pose much of a problem. 

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The government has also confirmed that Santa has been cleared to enter Irish airspace this year.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney told the Dáil last month that Santa is “exempt” from travel restrictions but stressed that children should maintain social distancing and ensure they don’t risk Santa’s health when he visits them this year.

“It is important to point out to all children in the country that we regard the travels of Santa Claus as essential travel for essential purposes, so he is exempt from the need to self-quarantine for 14 days and should be able to come in and out of Irish airspace and homes without having to restrict his movements.

However, children should not stay up at night because he needs to socially distance.  People need to keep at least 2 metres away at all stages to ensure they keep him and children safe. 
He is exempt and he is coming. He has confirmed that and appreciates the fact that Ireland has ensured that in a very different Christmas in 2020 the visit of Santa Claus will remain consistent.

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He has a long-night ahead of them then as he delivers toys and presents to children around the world. 

But he’s hoping that, this year, Christmas can bring an extra bit of joy for everyone. 

The spokesperson added: “We know this has been a rough year. But the magic of Christmas doesn’t disappear. It can’t. Not even during a pandemic. No matter what your Christmas is like this year, we hope it’ll be a good one.”

This kind of sentiment is one that would be echoed by all the staff here at TheJournal.ie. Happy Christmas, everyone. 

About the author:

Sean Murray

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