TORONTO -- One of Canada's largest mall operators is cancelling in-person Santa Claus visits amid increasing COVID-19 cases.
Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd. says it is suspending physical experiences with Santa in all 19 of its shopping centers, including the Eaton Centre mall in Toronto.
The mall operator had been offering in-person Santa visit reservations as recently as yesterday, but now says extensive conversations with government officials and consumer research encouraged it to cancel them.
The mall operator had planned to limit visits with Santa to nine people at a time for a maximum five minutes and roll out a mandatory mask policy and sanitizations between guests.
Cadillac Fairview will instead offer Santa storytime sessions in French and English on Facebook for families and will allow people to book one-on-one video chats with the jolly man from the North Pole.
The switch comes as public health officials have asked people to refrain from venturing out of their home for anything but essential services and have instructed malls to limit capacity, screen visitors for symptoms, implement mandatory mask policies and physically distance lineups.