Families that attended a Christmas event in South Carolina over the weekend have been notified by local officials that a maskless Santa Claus who greeted children has since tested positive for COVID-19.
The Charlotte Observer reported that about a dozen families attended the Fountain Inn city event, called Sensory Santa, which was designed for children with special needs.
The man playing Santa reportedly tested positive after the event, prompting officials to notify families in attendance.
"We sincerely regret this situation and apologize for this inconvenience. If you know of anyone who participated in the Sensory Santa event, please make sure they are aware of the situation," the Fountain Inn city website reads in a notice.
City Administrator Shawn Bell told The Charlotte Observer that the event has 10 to 15 families in attendance.
“Santa was not wearing a mask,” Bell told the outlet. “He at the time was not experiencing any symptoms whatsoever. It wasn’t until later that evening that he found out that he had some limited contact with a relative who had tested positive.”
The city is encouraging families to talk to their doctor and get tested for COVID-19.
Fountain Inn does not have a face mask requirement, but officials recently passed a resolution that encourages residents to wear a face covering.
“In retrospect, we wish Santa would have been wearing a mask,” Bell said.
The report comes after another Santa in a Georgia parade tested positive for COVID-19.
According to local reports, up to 50 children could have been exposed to the virus at that event, where both Santa and Mrs. Claus later tested positive for the coronavirus.
Across the country, Americans have been grappling with how to safely celebrate the holidays during the pandemic.
Some states have issued new, limited, stay-at-home orders like California, while others are encouraging limited gatherings and other precautions to mitigate a spike in cases.
New COVID-19 infections have been surging nationally in recent weeks following the Thanksgiving holiday when some families gathered indoors to celebrate, despite recommendations to the contrary.