For the 50+ Traveler

Santa Claus will be spreading joy and happiness -- not COVID-19 -- when he visits millions of homes this Christmas.

That reassurance comes from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.

“Santa is not going to be spreading any infections to anybody,” Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA TODAY. “Santa is exempt from this because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity.”

That’s good news, but how can Santa travel the world for Christmas when many countries have travel restrictions or outright bans? Fortunately, leaders of many countries have begun to give Santa Claus a special travel exemption.

For example, Belgium is one of the European countries hit hardest by COVID-19. In response, the government is enforcing a nightly curfew, tough quarantine rules, and other measures to curb infections.

That said, the government of Belgium is offering a special exemption from the country’s strict coronavirus measures to beloved St. Nicholas, who always delivers bountiful presents on the morning of December 6.

In a letter, the Belgian health and interior ministers soothed the worries of children fearing they might not receive presents this year. The officials said St. Nicholas wouldn’t need to quarantine after arriving in Belgium, and he also would be able to walk rooftops to drop gifts into chimneys even during curfew hours.

“Dear Saint, do what you do best: Make every child happy. We are counting on you,” Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden and Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke wrote in a joint letter. However, despite the exemption, they also wrote that they do still expect St. Nicholas to “always respect distancing, wash hands regularly, and wear a face mask.”

In other world travel news, Professor Emer Shelley, the dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, said travel restrictions would not apply to Santa, which means he can still make visits -- even if people need to have smaller family gatherings.

“Everybody is asleep when Santa Claus calls, so he’s not going to come across anybody when he travels all around the world from Lapland,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Rather than needing to grant Santa Claus a travel exemption, the First Minister of Scotland has taken a different approach.

Speaking directly to children at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reassured Scotland’s children that Santa Claus will still be visiting Scottish houses on Christmas Eve, despite strict COVID-19 restrictions.

“Santa is a key worker, and he’s got lots of magic powers that make him safe, so he will not be prevented from delivering your presents on Christmas Eve,” Sturgeon said. “Santa will be delivering presents as normal.”

Finally, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte reassured children that Santa Claus will be able to deliver presents as normal this Christmas.

In what is perhaps the best travel news of all, Prime Minister Conte wrote in a Facebook post that “Father Christmas assured me that he already has an international travel certificate: He can travel everywhere and distribute gifts to all the world’s children.”

It’s good to know that Santa Claus can still make his way -- safely -- around the world. Want to ensure your own safely distanced Santa encounter? Consider arranging one of these Santa visits with a 2020 twist.