Is it safe to visit Santa Claus this year?

In this socially distant holiday season, Santa Claus is still coming to towns (and shopping malls) across America but with a few 2020 rules in effect. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (Seth Wenig, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Santa Claus is coming to town and you may be wondering if it’s safe to visit with the big guy this year, especially as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

“You really can’t sit on Santa’s lap,” said Gina Robinson, MD, a pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “I don’t think you can do that safely, even if Santa is wearing a mask and you’re wearing a mask because obviously you’re not six feet away.”

Dr. Robinson said there are still ways to visit with Santa but it’ll definitely be different than what you’re used to.

For example, some locations may have him sit behind a plastic sheet to keep his distance or require reservations, while others are offering a virtual option this year – which means your little one will have to share their wish list with Santa online instead.

“I think that is a great option because we’ve all gotten so used to doing that with family and friends,” said Dr. Robinson. “Doing family meetings virtually, being in online classroom settings virtually, so I think that’ll blend seamlessly into what we’ve already gotten used to doing.”

If you do plan to visit with Santa in person, she said to be sure to wash your hands before and after, or bring hand sanitizer with you.

And if you see people standing around without masks or in big groups, you may want to come back another day.