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Government says Santa's grottos can open in all Covid-19 tiers, but with a catch


Santa’s grottos will be allowed to open in all coronavirus tiers in England when national lockdown ends this week.

Newly published guidance, to take effect from Thursday, says kids will be able to meet Father Christmas, even in Tier 3 – as long as the grotto is within a venue which is already permitted to open.

It means grottos will be allowed to open if they are in shops, garden centres and department stores in all tiers, because non-essential retail is permitted.

But it’s unclear whether they will be allowed to open as part of a Christmas market. Indoor and outdoor markets are allowed to open as non-essential retail.

But indoor attractions at largely outdoor tourist attractions will not be allowed in Tier 3.

The Mirror has asked Number 10 to clarify this guidance and will update this story when they have done so.

The guidance also urges grottos to put in place “appropriate Covid-safe measures” – including social distancing.




This would seem to rule out the traditional grotto set up of a youngster sitting on Santa’s knee and whispering their Christmas wishes in his ear – to be replaced, presumably, by toddlers yelling them at St Nick from the other side of the room. Perhaps through a perspex screen.

It’s unlikely that Santa will be legally required to wear a face covering, but guidance says workers should do so when social distancing is not possible.

Carol singing will also be allowed – but with severe health warnings and suggested guidance.

The document states: “If singing does take place, steps should be taken to reduce the risk of transmission, including limiting the number of people participating as far as possible.

“The cumulative effect of aerosol transmission means the more people involved, the higher the risk of transmission.”

The ‘safer singing’ guidance, published last week, suggests choral singing should only take place outdoors or in well ventilated spaces, with a limited number of singers  – all of whom should stay two metres apart if possible.

Performance and rehearsal should be “limited”, and at a “reduced level of loudness” if possible.

The Government has also encouraged singers to consider wearing face coverings while they are singing.





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