Father Christmas will not need to wear a face mask when he is meeting children at grottos in England, Downing Street has said.
The government announced on Sunday that Santa’s grottos will be able to open in all tiers of local coronavirus restrictions once England’s lockdown ends on Wednesday, as long as the venues are permitted to open under the rules.
And because Santas will be “operating in a Covid-secure way” they will not need to wear face masks when meeting children, No.10 said on Monday.
However, children will not be able to sit on Santa’s knee.
A Downing Street spokesperson told reporters: “We obviously know that meeting Father Christmas is a magical experience for children which is why he will be taking safety precautions, including ensuring he is operating in a Covid secure way but it won’t be required for Santa to wear a mask.”
Asked if children could sit on Santa’s knee, the spokesperson said: “We have set out the guidance in order that Santa can meet children in a Covid-secure way but no, that is not part of the guidance.
“It won’t be permitted to sit on his knee as part of the guidance.”
On Sunday, the government also confirmed that carol singing and nativity plays will also be allowed to go ahead, but with limited numbers and social distancing.
Door-to-door carol singers can spread their annual cheer – but only in groups of six and while keeping at least two metres away from “the threshold of any dwellings”. Where there are more than six people, the groups should not mingle or socialise, guidance states.
Participants are expected to follow social distancing by staying at least two metres apart from anyone who is not from the same household, and the same distance away from the door of the property outside which they are singing.
Indoor singing will also be allowed by choirs, but with no audience participation.
Indoor singing by professional and amateur choirs can take place according to the particular area’s tier, but audiences or congregations are not to join in “any activity that can create aerosols, including singing, shouting and chanting”, because they can increase the risk of Covid transmission.
School nativity plays will be allowed to go ahead “within existing school bubbles” and avoiding any mixing across groups.
Audiences will only be allowed to attend in tier 1 and 2 areas – subject to “appropriate safeguards”.
For proud parents in tier 3, schools are advised to use live-streaming or record the performances.
For people hoping to get in the festive mood by attending a Christmas market, the government advises they must check the rules according to their tier.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.