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Guidelines have been released to ensure safe, socially-distanced visits to Santa Claus. Photo: Kirill Kedrinskiy

Guidelines have been released to ensure safe, socially-distanced visits to Santa Claus. Photo: Kirill Kedrinskiy

Guidelines have been released to ensure safe, socially-distanced visits to Santa Claus. Photo: Kirill Kedrinskiy

Fáilte Ireland has drawn up the new guidelines outlining how visits to Santa can go ahead safely.

Social distancing will have to be adhered to, there will be no sitting on Santa's lap and toys will likely be collected on the way out the door.

People visiting Santa can visit with people in their family, household or support bubbles, and a one way system will operate.

The guidelines are geared towards facilitating some of the bigger Santa experience events around the country, rather than small grottos, a source said.

They state that management must aim to follow the Government's advice throughout the season and the priority should be to make the experience a safe and Covid-free space, but "not to take away from the magic of the experience itself."

Visitors should not congregate for social reasons or mingle with other visitors outside their designated bubble.

Pre-booking and time limited slots for each group are recommended. There must be adequate time between bookings to clean and disinfect.

It is also recommended that just one family, household or support bubble are permitted entry at one time.

Where it comes to photographs, it may be possible to strategically place visitors in certain spaces to give the effect that they are closer to Santa, the guidelines say.

"Businesses should use innovative ways of giving gifts to children without any physical contact," they state.

They suggest allowing the children to pick up their gift from a designated area, for example a special 'gift' room, a sleigh or baskets.

The new guidelines can also apply to Christmas markets.

Meanwhile, new figures show the ease with which people can get the virus in their own homes.

While outbreaks in private houses fell to 262 last week - when Level 5 lockdown was still in place - they continue to be hotspots.

There were 21 outbreaks in workplaces, including food factories, and twelve in schools.

Another 10 outbreaks struck hospitals, which resulted in patients being infected and hundreds of staff having to take leave.

There were five more deaths from the virus confirmed yesterday, with another 270 people diagnosed with the infection.

The numbers in hospitals are stable, with 231 getting treatment and 31 in intensive care.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "It is important to keep up the progress that we have achieved in recent weeks.

"Ireland now has the lowest 14-day incidence of Covid-19 in the EU, according the latest ECDC figures and we need to hold firm to this position.

"As the country moves into Level 3, there is no room for complacency in our response to Covid-19.

"As more services reopen for business, remember to use the basic public health advice as a guide when organising your time.

"When you are out in shops and accessing services, try to avoid high risk situations and wear a face covering when social distancing is not possible on busy streets and crowded outdoor areas.

Priority

"When you come home from shopping or being outdoors, remember that washing your hands is your first priority.

"For those of us who cannot work from home, the wearing of a face covering is now advised when moving around busy indoor workplaces and in communal work areas.

"If you are planning to travel around your county, consider first whether it is absolutely necessary to travel.

"Your individual actions are vital to our national effort to suppress the transmission of this disease."

Donegal, Louth and Kilkenny continue to have the highest 14-day incidence of the virus.

The lowest incidence rates are in Leitrim, Westmeath, Wexford and Kerry.


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