Ho ho ho turns to no no no as Queensland restrictions slay Santa bookings

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 QueenslandRos Palisi says her Santas are meant to start next week, but border rules are discouraging clientsShe 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)

Catch up on the main COVID-19 news from November 16 with a look back at our blog

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.

"Kids won't be allowed to sit on Santa's knee for photos and kids can't get any closer than 1.5 meters."

A family gets a shopping centre photo with Santa from a COVID-safe distance.
Santas will need to maintain a distance of 1.5m while they're on the job, which Ms Palisi says will rob kids of the chance to tell them their secrets.(ABC News: Kevin Nguyen)

'Very sad'

Ms Palisi is worried the rules will ruin the excitement of the season for kids.

"Santa is an icon to young children," she said.

"Children love Santa, they tell Santa their biggest secrets and they're not going to be able to do that, because they're not going to be able to get close enough to him to speak.

"Santa hears amazing stories that are children's secrets — they don't tell their mum and dad, but they'll tell Santa."

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Australians will be free to travel overseas from this week for the first time in 18 months, but back home, state border closures are still keeping many families apart. 

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She said until there was more certainty around what was happening with the Queensland border, the Santas would be in limbo.

"Annastacia [Palaszczuk] is being very, very mean, very mean," she said.

"Taking dreams off children is just unforgivable.

"It's taking the joy of Christmas — the Santas are very sad because they want to give the children the experience.

"They're still going to do the work, they want to be a Santa, but they're very sad they wont be giving or sharing the experience that the children expect."

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