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New Minnesota COVID-19 restrictions keep Santa at the North Pole

SANTA

DULUTH, MN - You'll be hard pressed to find Santa and tell him what you want for Christmas in Minnesota under the state's new COVID-19 restrictions that go into effect Friday night.

The restrictions announced by Governor Tim Walz during a primetime address on Wednesday specifically list "Santa meet and greets" under recreation and entertainment activities that are not allowed.

That means taking photos with Santa at the Miller Hill Mall or sharing your wishlist with him at Fitger's is out of the question, at least through December 18.

"My reindeer and I have been visiting with families at Fitger’s for over 20 years and I’m so sad that we won’t be able to visit in person this year," Santa wrote in a statement to KBJR 6.

"This pandemic is just one of the new challenges that I have faced in past years, including air traffic congestion, climate change, heightened security, and privacy concerns. We have found a way to overcome all of them and will find a way to deal with this health crisis. What is most important is that
families are safe this holiday season so that they can celebrate many more holidays together in the future."

It doesn't mean Santa isn't checking his naughty or nice list at the North Pole, however.

Several services are offering the chance to chat virtually with Santa including Jingle Ring and Chatbooks.

You can also still send a letter to Santa in the mail as part of the United States Postal Service's Operation Santa.

Santa is expected to make a television appearance during the 62nd annual Christmas City of the North Parade, however.

Restrictions on Santa aren't just happening in Minnesota.

In New York City, Santa won't be at Macy's for the first time in 160 years. More than a quarter million people come to visit Santa at the store each year, USA Today reports.

Governor Walz's order for Minnesota also calls for shutting down bars, restaurants and fitness centers while pausing social gatherings and organized amateur sports for four weeks.

Kevin Jacobsen

News Director

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