UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government, tackling the surge in COVID-19 cases, have reassured youngsters that Father Christmas will be "packing his sleigh" and "delivering presents" this Christmas, despite the pandemic.
Johnson was responding to a hopeful letter by an eight-year-old, who asked if the government has had any "thought" about "Santa coming this Christmas".
"If we leave hand sanitiser by the cookies can he come? Or will he wash his hands? I understand you are very busy but can you and the scientists please talk about this?" the eight-year-old, named Monti, said.
Monti (aged 8) wrote to me asking if Father Christmas will be able to deliver presents this year
I've had lots of letters about this, so I have spoken with experts and can assure you that Father Christmas will be packing his sleigh and delivering presents this Christmas! pic.twitter.com/pXwcjHSxZg
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 25, 2020
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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"I know millions of other children are asking the same thing. Just to make sure I have put in a call to the North Pole and I can tell you Father Christmas is ready and raring to go, as are Rudolph and all of the other reindeer," Johnson wrote back on his official letterhead.
"Leaving hand sanitiser by the cookies is an excellent idea to help prevent the spread of the virus - and using it yourself, and washing your hands regularly is the kind of thing that will get you and your friends on the nice list," the letter said.
With Christmas season arriving, the four nations of the UK have agreed to relax COVID-19 restrictions to allow up to three households to meet at home for five days, news agency Reuters reported.
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have taken differing approaches to handling the pandemic so far but the leaders of the devolved nations reached an agreement with London on rules governing the festive period, the news agency said.
Three households will be able to form a "Christmas bubble", allowing them to meet up at home, places of worship and in outdoor public places but not at indoor hospitality or entertainment venues from December 23 until December 27 under the plan.