Belgian health minister tells Santa he’s exempt from Covid rules

(CNN) – Millions of people across Europe are living under restrictions as the continent battles a second wave of coronavirus. In Belgium, however, the authorities have ordered a fun worker to be exempt from the rules: Santa Claus. The country’s health minister, Frank Vandenbroucke, wrote a letter to St. Nicholas Thursday assuring him he was exempt from quarantine rules that could affect his festive trip. Every year on December 6th, Belgian children wake up and hurry to see if Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas as he is called in the Flemish-speaking part of the country, has left presents for them.

According to tradition, in some parts of Belgium St. Nicholas arrives by boat from Spain and delivers presents on the evening of December 5th.

“As you know, dear Nicholas, Spain is in red in code. Therefore, according to the rules, you should stay in quarantine for a few days when you arrive,” wrote Vandenbroucke in a letter published in the French-language newspaper Le Soir.

“However, knowing that you have no time to lose and that you need every hour to prepare gifts for each child, we decided to make an exception,” wrote the Minister, noting that the 17-day boat trip from Spain would be considered “more than enough quarantine” in this case.

According to the Johns Hopkins University, Belgium has now registered more than half a million cases of Covid-19, while Spain became the fourth European country to record more than 40,000 deaths from coronavirus earlier this week.

The minister added that Saint Nicholas would be exempt from the country’s curfew but warned him to maintain social distance and wear a mask when delivering gifts if necessary.

Vandenbroucke also used the letter to pay homage to Belgian children who “have been particularly brave this year”.

“In fact, it’s not easy every day: everything has changed in school; at the moment they can no longer see their friends, they can no longer indulge in their favorite hobbies. Really, really, it’s not happy for them. Not to mention that they can’t even go and let grandpa and grandma cuddle them for comfort.

“But hold on tight, dear Nikolaus. Not just to protect yourself, but above all to protect others. During these two weeks vacation, mothers and fathers do their best to look after them even more, however this too. ” Year they deserve your visit more than ever. Every child is a hero, and for once you don’t have to check into your big, wise notebook, “he wrote.

Santa Claus is not the only supernatural being to receive an exception to this year’s Covid-19 restrictions. In April New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern added the tooth fairy and Easter bunny to the list of top workers in the country.

CNN’s Pierre Bairin contributed to the coverage.

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