After a tough year, we all need a reason to smile this Christmas.
Thankfully, Santa is coming to Canberra-town this year, albeit in a socially distanced fashion.
Elves will be busy at shopping centres across the city to make sure there is plenty of festive cheer in the air while COVID-19 restrictions are in place.
Ten things to know before taking your kids – or pets – to see Santa:
- Book in advance – the number one rule this year is to book your Santa photos well in advance. Most locations will only let you meet Santa if you’ve booked beforehand and some locations have limited numbers this year, so get in quick and avoid missing out!
- Forget about sitting on Santa’s knee – young children and babies will miss the tradition of sitting on Santa’s knee this year due to social distancing requirements.
- No high-fives – you also won’t be able to high-five Santa this year because of social distancing requirements.
- Zoom photos – some locations are offering anyone who would prefer to stay at home to meet Santa and have their photo taken with Santa via Zoom!
- BYO props and dress-up – if you want to wear a hat or tinsel in the photo, you’ll have to bring your own. There won’t be any prop boxes or dress-up boxes to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Separate seating – families will be asked to sit separately from Santa’s throne to maintain social distancing requirements. However, the photographer will be able to make it look like you were sat closer to Santa.
- Landscape photos instead of portrait photos – many photos will be taken and printed in landscape to capture families with Santa at a safe distance.
- No queues – no one loves to queue and no one will be allowed to queue this year, so the advice is to arrive on time but not early for your pre-booked photo with Santa.
- One family per photo – in some locations, only one family will be allowed in each photo with Santa to help keep everyone safe.
- Contactless check-in and pay – people will be directed to scan a QR code to check-in and keep track of everyone who meets Santa, as well as to pay using a contactless card to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Westfield says its Santa experience will still be available to all customers despite the current restrictions.
“We’re committed to delivering a COVID-safe, festive and enjoyable experience for our customers this Christmas. Of course, Santa will be a big part of Christmas at Westfield but in a different way to reflect health advice as the community would expect,” said Phil McAveety of Westfield.
Canberra Centre will be one of the locations offering everyone the chance to call and have their photo taken with Santa on Zoom for a fee.
“While Christmas is a little different this year, what hasn’t changed is our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our entire community at Canberra Centre,” Mr Stewart said. “As part of this commitment, this year we’ve evolved some of our traditional Christmas experiences including Santa photography.”
Aretta Beroukas, retail manager at Majura Park Shopping Centre, said their elves were ready for a busy season.
“Santa’s elves have checked off our COVID-19 safety plan for Santa photos, which includes plenty of Santa-tiser for everyone, and we will also have dedicated times for Santa paws photos,” Ms Beroukas said.