- Visits with Santa Claus might look different this year because of coronavirus health precautions.
- One Santa training school in the UK is teaching wannabe Kris Kringles bring Christmas cheer while social distancing and wearing protective equipment.
- Uncertainty around pandemic health guidelines have led to a drop in bookings at the Ministry of Fun’s Santa School.
- View more episodes of Business Insider Today on Facebook.
Donning festive face shields and red velvet masks are just a couple ways performers at a professional Santa school are figuring out how to celebrate Christmas during a pandemic.
The Ministry of Fun, an entertainment company in London, claims to have the longest-running Santa training school in the United Kingdom.
For 25 years, director James Lovell has been teaching wannabe Kris Kringles everything from reindeer names and costume design to how to handle fussy children.
This year, Christmas parties and Santa Claus visits will have to be coronavirus-safe, so Santa School started early to allow for training of a new set of skills.
“We need to be able to reassure the nation and people that book Father Christmas that it is still possible to produce a Christmas grotto safely and magically,” Lovell told Business Insider Today.
For one, Santa School students are learning how to manage long lines and enforce social distancing.
Instead of having kids sit with Santa, they will be seated 2 meters away, and can take a gift from a small sled, completely contact-free.
“We want everyone to know that, you know, all the precautions are set in place so that Santa’s safe,” one Santa trainee said. “All the children are safe, and the adults are safe as well.”
The Santa School usually gets up to 700 bookings by September ahead of Christmas season, but this year, it’s only seen half that. Lovell says the British government has only made guidelines more confusing.
Movie theatres and museums are open in the UK, but fears of a second wave have left some hesitant to embrace a “normal” Christmas.
“It’s not that people have said no, it’s just that they are hesitating about saying yes. There are a lot of mixed messages,” Lovell said. “People don’t really know what they’re supposed to be doing.”
The director says families can rest assured that close contact with strangers can be easily avoided during a visit with Santa. And with all the coronavirus precautions and proper training in place, he’s confident that Christmas won’t be cancelled this year.
“You can’t have Christmas without Santa. And so I’m hoping that after today, people will be reassured and we’ll start booking them as they normally do,” he said.
“After everything that’s happened this year, the magic of Father Christmas is more important than ever before, really. People need cheering up. I think more than ever this year, Father Christmas should be out there making people smile again.”