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Santas face ‘very sad’ Christmas amid COVID-driven uncertainty on Qld border

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Santas could be out of a job as Queensland border rules and coronavirus restrictions dampen holiday spirit across the state.

Key points:
A Santa hire business says bookings are down by nearly 80 per cent amid Christmas uncertainty in Queensland
Ros Palisi says her Santas are meant to start next week, but border rules are discouraging clients
She says Santas from northern NSW could also face lengthy delays at the border
The border is set to open a week before Christmas, but Santa impersonators are due to start work as early as next week.

Roz Palisi, who runs a Santa hire business, says she has only locked in nine bookings around the state as opposed to the usual 40 or more, with shopping centres “playing it day by day”.

“Everyone’s iffy because they’re very scared of the border being closed, going into lockdown again, so people are very hesitant to confirm bookings,” she said.

“Even as far as Cairns — they’ve got quotes, they’re looking at it, but they’re very scared to commit.”

Ms Palisi said some Santas coming from northern New South Wales would be allowed to cross for work, but she was afraid their sleighs could become caught in painful and growing border traffic.

“A couple of the fellows live in the Mullumbimby area, so because they’re going to work they will be exempt to go to Queensland,” she said.

“As time goes on with the border check, it is going to take longer for them to travel — that will cost you money.

“It leaves us all hanging on a thread.”

Police officers at checkpoint with driver line-up at Queensland-NSW border at Coolangatta.
Santas will need to show proof of vaccination to pass through police checkpoints.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)
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In the red
Ms Palisi said Santas had been receiving their own gifts, but she was afraid they would be received like lumps of coal.

“I’m sending clothes up for the men to wear with the chance they might not be worn, so that’s an expense for my business,” she said.

“All that freight — the men may not even get a chance to wear the suit.”

Ongoing COVID rules mean Santas will have to wear masks underneath their beards.

“They have to be 1.5 meters away from anybody, so you can’t have a Santa roaming through smaller centres,” Ms Palisi said.

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