OTTAWA -- If your child is going to visit Santa Claus this year, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit recommends wearing a mask for the photo, staying six feet away and not sitting on Santa's lap.

The health unit covering Alexandria, Clarence-Rockland, Cornwall, Hawkesbury and Prescott-Russell has released guidelines to celebrate the holidays safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This holiday season, we recommend visiting Santa and the other North Pole residents virtually," said the Eastern Ontario Health Unit on its website.

If you do choose to have your children visit Santa in person, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit says, "Sitting on Santa's lap is not permitted this year."

Other tips for a safe visit with Santa Claus during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Stay two metres away from anyone outside your household, including Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves, even if a photo is being taken
  • If you are posing for a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus, wear a face covering
  • Pictures can be taken with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves closer than two metres if they are separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • Avoid touching high-touch surfaces and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has also banned traditional Christmas parades this holiday season due to COVID-19.

The health unit recommends drive-by parades where the floats are parked and neighbourhood parades with floats driving by on a predetermined path through the neighbourhood.