It's the holiday season and in-person Santa visits are returning to Illinois stores and malls, but how safe is it?
While children could soon begin receiving COVID vaccinations, they may not be fully vaccinated in time for the holiday tradition, but Chicago's top doctor said other precautions will likely be in place.
"I think certainly my guess is that Santas are getting tested for COVID," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live Tuesday. "If you know what I mean? I would I would guess that Santas are - they're being extra careful. And certainly I'm sure any of the larger stores would be doing that."
She added that indoor mask mandates remain in place, which help to lower the risk, particularly for children who aren't eligible for vaccination yet.
Get Chicago local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Chicago newsletters.
"I think you know if your child is over 5, even with that first vaccine dose, you do already start to get some protection," Arwady said. "I want to be clear, you need both doses, though, for Pfizer to really be considered to have that full dose, but you've got some time."
Already, some locations in the Chicago area have announced the return of in-person Santa visits.
Time with Santa Claus is reservation-only this year as he returns to Macy's on State Street in Chicago for the 2021 holiday season, and the first block of appointments are already open.
Santa is also coming to town for Gurnee Mills mall. After a hiatus because of the pandemic, Santa is returning to Gurnee Mills for in-person visits starting Nov. 26.