Belgium may be hunkering down due to the coronavirus, but at least one jolly visitor won’t have to abide by any quarantine measures or curfews: St. Nicholas.
In an adorable memo, the Belgian health and interior ministers promised good old St. Nicholas would be exempt from having to quarantine when he arrives in the country from Spain — where he apparently lives — and won’t have to abide by the nation’s nightly curfew either, allowing him to deliver presents all through the night, The Associated Press reported. In Belgium, St. Nicholas visits children on Dec. 6.
“Dear Saint, do what you do best: make every child happy. We are counting on you,” they wrote, but warned the Big Guy to “always respect distancing, wash hands regularly and wear a face mask.”
And the good news is St. Nicholas doesn’t have to check his naughty or nice list this year.
“Every kid here is a hero,” the ministers wrote. “So, for once, you don’t have to check it in your big book.”
Belgium has reported more than 535,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the government in Belgium, and is currently seeing a 23.4% positivity rate over a 14 day average.
On Nov. 2, the country imposed new restrictions, according to the U.S. Embassy in Belgium, which will remain in effect until at least Dec. 13. Nonessential businesses have been closed along with dine-in restaurants and bars, a nightly curfew is in effect, and face masks are required in public.
Tourists traveling to Belgium from the EU, the Schengen Area, the UK, and several other countries are allowed to enter. Those coming from a red zone, however, which includes many countries in Europe, may be required to quarantine.
All others traveling to Belgium are required to provide an essential reason, according to the government’s COVID-19 website.
In addition, most Christmas markets across the country have been canceled, but there are still plenty of ways to get into the holiday spirit from home. Virtually visit a famed European Christmas market, sign up for a meet-and-greet with Santa on Zoom or receive a customized video message from the Big Guy. And don’t forget to tour Santa’s village and workshop with Macy’s “Santaland at Home” experience.
Belgium isn’t alone in granting an exception to a mythical character so they can continue their important work during the pandemic: In April, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern deemed both the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny essential workers.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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