Father Xmas will not have to wear a mask but his knees are off limits – No 10

Father Christmas will not need to wear a mask in grottos but children will be barred from sitting on his knees under coronavirus rules, Downing Street has said.

The Government has set out guidance on how to safely carry out festive traditions during the Covid-19 pandemic, including on carol singing and nativity plays.

Grottos are permitted to welcome in children all over England as long as they are in venues that are allowed to open.

No 10 gave further details on Monday as to what steps Father Christmas will and will not have to take in order to be safe this season.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We know that meeting Father Christmas is a magical experience for children which is why he will be taking safety precautions including ensuring that he is operating in a Covid-secure way, but it won’t be required for Santa to wear a mask.”

But he added: “It won’t be permitted for children to sit on his knee as part of the guidance.”

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