Santa Claus will be allowed to make his annual trek across the province to deliver presents to Manitobans who’ve chosen being nice over naughty this year, despite strict public health orders in place to curb COVID-19.
Manitoba’s chief provincial health officer says Claus has been added to the list of essential workers allowed to keep working through the restrictions.
“We know that this year there’s been a lot of new rules, we have to wear masks, we have to continue to wash our hands, we have to keep our distance from friends and others,” Dr. Brent Roussin said at a press conference Wednesday.
“We’ve heard that because of these orders there’s been concerns that, perhaps, Santa Claus may not be able to visit. But Premier (Brian) Pallister and I, we’ve worked with others in the government, and we’ve made some special changes for Santa Claus.”
Manitoba has been under strict public health orders for more than a month that have closed non-essential businesses, banned large outdoor gatherings and prohibited people from having house guests, with some exceptions.
Roussin said changes to the government’s public health orders will allow Claus to continue his work dropping off presents at homes across Manitoba this year.
“Santa Claus is certainly an essential worker, which means that he is allowed to travel to Manitoba and able to come to anyone’s house,” Roussin said.
The news comes after a special notice of motion was introduced at Calgary’s city council Tuesday, requesting the province of Alberta also declare Claus’ work an essential service amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The motion, which requires Claus and his reindeer to be masked and comply with physical distancing rules, was unanimously adopted by council.
Along with milk, cookies and carrots for the reindeer, the motion suggests hand sanitizer also be left out for Claus and his team this year.
Last week the British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Claus would be first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine shot in that province.
With files from Jodi Hughes, Adam Toy and Simon Little
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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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