Santa still visiting Southcentre Mall this Christmas despite COVID-19

It seems COVID-19 can’t stop Santa Claus from leaving the North Pole and travelling to Calgary to meet with kids at Southcentre Mall.

Officials with the shopping centre announced on Tuesday that children will still have the chance to meet Old Saint Nick this year, though the experience will be different than it was in the past.

This year, visits with Santa begin earlier than usual, on Friday, Nov. 13.

Read more: $12k gold chain stolen from Michael Hill jewelry store at Southcentre Mall

To help keep him safe, visitors will be able to have photos taken with him at a brand-new Santa set on the second level of the mall just outside of Hudson’s Bay.

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In a news release, Southcentre Mall says the new set will offer “the same magical experience” for families, “while ensuring all guests remain safely distanced.”

It includes one-way traffic, designated entrance and exit points, waiting zones and minimal touchpoints as well as temperature checks and mandatory hand sanitization upon entry

Guests will travel through a Christmas tree farm and make their way to St. Nick’s shiny red truck to have their photo taken next to a mask-wearing Mr. Claus.

The mall says enhanced sanitization protocols will also be in place between each visit.

Read more: Canadian malls say coronavirus will change visits to Santa

Marketing manager Alexandra Velosa called it a “fresh take” on visiting Santa.

“While we recognize that holiday shopping will be different this year, we remain committed to providing shoppers with an exceptional guest experience that takes them beyond the commercialism of the season,” Velosa said.

Guests are encouraged to book their visit in advance using the online booking system, which will accommodate 10 photo sessions per hour from Nov. 13 until Christmas Eve.

Southcentre’s sensory-friendly sessions with Santa are also returning beginning Nov. 14. The program is intended for children who have sensory sensitivities and mobility issues.

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Even pet owners will be able to bring their furry friends for photos with Santa on designated dates.

Southcentre said a detailed “know before you go” resource will be available online with “extensive details about how to plan ahead for a visit with Santa” and “what to expect from the queuing process and photo experience.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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