OTTAWA -- Santa Claus has the green light to visit Ottawa on Christmas Eve, but he must follow COVID-19 protocols. 

While Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa are asking residents to avoid travel over the holiday season, Mayor Jim Watson and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches have granted a travel exemption to Santa Claus to allow him to deliver gifts to households.

"All physical distancing measures will be ensured to keep our residents safe and happy throughout the holidays," said a statement from the Mayor's Office.

Ottawa Public Health is recommending you celebrate the holidays only with those in your household plus one or two essential supports.

On Thursday, Dr. Etches asked residents to find new traditions for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

"With all of this in mind, if you do still choose to gather with those outside your household this holiday season, there are ways to make it safer," said Dr. Etches. 

The medical officer of health recommends wearing a mask if you attend a gathering, avoid sharing food and drinks and keep visits short.

"Avoid hugging, kissing and shaking hands."