Pictures with ol’ Saint Nick are still in the works for a pair of Kamloops malls this Christmas season, but those plans remain in limbo due to new provincial health orders to curb the spread of COIVD-19.
Both Aberdeen and Sahali malls plan to organize photos with Santa and have a number of health and safety protocols to implement to make the event possible this year.
Due to new health orders that are in effect until at least Dec. 7, Aberdeen Mall has delayed its visits with Santa that were to begin on Saturday, Nov. 28. Those photos will begin on Dec. 8, pending approval from health officials.
At Sahali Mall, pictures with Santa were to begin on Dec. 3, but that will likely have to be moved back a few days due to the new orders on events.
Neither Lansdowne nor Northills Mall will have photos with Santa Claus offered this year due to COVID-19 health concerns.
Given all the events cancelled by COVID-19 this year, Sahali Mall manager Len Robinson told KTW the mall wanted to come up with a plan to keep this annual one off the nixed list.
“We felt we would try it out anyways for the kids,” Robinson said. “It’s a pretty abnormal year.”
Sahali Mall plans to have photos with Santa by appointment only to avoid long lineups. Masks could be temporarily removed for the photos, which would take place with Santa and guests in their own seats separated by Plexiglass, with cleaning between visits.
If permitted to move ahead, the plan at Aberdeen Mall also involves taking photos with the man in the red suit behind Plexiglass, with separate seating for guests.
Cleaning protocols, floor decals to keep people six feet apart and online appointment bookings would be in place and the Santaland set moved into one of the mall’s empty units as opposed to the centre court area, to allow foot traffic to move more freely. Customers will also need to answer a health questionnaire before entering the set, which will have occupancy limits.
Aberdeen Mall is also planning a virtual option for people to visit with Santa.
Prior to the new health orders, the mall stated people would be allowed to line up to see Santa, as long as they wore a mask, which are now required in all indoor businesses. Masks could then be removed while taking the picture.