NORAD reducing volunteers for Santa tracking due to coronavirus
© Screenshot/noradsanta.org

There will be fewer eyes and ears tracking Santa this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which tracks Santa's Christmas Eve journey every year, said Monday it is reducing the volunteers that staff the official Santa tracking project this year.

"Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, only a small number of volunteers will be answering the NORAD Tracks Santa toll-free number, 1-877-Hi-NORAD, on Dec. 24," NORAD tweeted.

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"While NORAD understands the call center is an important tradition for many families around the world, we reduce the health risks posed by attempting to conduct a large indoor, in-person, call center during the pandemic."

NORAD directed Santa fans to the official NORAD Santa tracking website and new mobile app, which will still track Santa's progress on Dec. 24. The online experience will go live Dec. 1.

Callers who cannot get through to one of the reduced number of volunteers will hear a "recorded update on Santa's location," NORAD said.