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Toronto Santa Claus Parade moved online due to COVID-19 restrictions

Last Updated Sep 23, 2020 at 6:55 pm EDT

Santa Claus is coming to town this year, although not in the traditional way.

The annual Santa Claus Parade has become the latest casualty of COVID-19 after city officials announced permits for outdoor major events have been cancelled or altered for the rest of the year due to restrictions in place for large in-person gatherings.

Parade organizers say they are working on a plan B which involves moving the event online.

Santa Claus parades in the Beaches, North Etobicoke and Etobicoke Lakeshore are also considering alternate plans.

Other events and festivals affected by the decision include Nuit Blanche, Toronto Waterfront Marathon, a number of Halloween events, the Cavalcade of Lights as well as New Year’s Eve festivities at Nathan Philips Square.

“Major festivals and events require long lead times for planning, rely on City sites, supports or permissions, and present higher public health risks given the potential for crowds and the need to maintain physical distancing,” the city said in a release on Wednesday. “The need to sustain essential services also limits the City’s ability to provide support to third-party event organizers to ensure public safety.”

The announcement comes just days after Mayor John Tory announced the cancellation of the city’s popular Christmas market, which in recent years started charging a cover fee to reduce overcrowding.

To help mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on festivals and events, the City has repurposed grant funding that was previously approved by council by providing $565,000 to help organizers maintain critical operations to survive this year and prepare for their next festival.

Earlier this year, the city announced the cancellation of permits for major events such as Taste of the Danforth and the Beaches Jazz Festival up to September 30.