She’s making a list, she’s checking it twice, and she’s following all government guidelines so Oamaru children can get a Santa photo this year.
For Oamaru photographer Hayley Casey, the only certain thing is, nothing is certain when it comes to taking photos of children with Santa Claus in the time of Covid.
Luckily, Santa has been able to travel the world without quarantining, but this causes a bit of a headache for Mrs Casey when it comes to seating layouts.
“The rules are pretty vague, so it’s pretty difficult to have made a decision. I can’t get a straight answer out of anybody,” she said.
“In the end, because I work as a close contact business, my understanding is, I can have the kids sitting close to Santa at the parents’ discretion.”
Santa would be masked and was bringing his sleigh, so children could either sit with him or be socially distanced.
“It’s up the parents really what they want to do. But most people have been very keen to have them sit with Santa.”
There would be a baby seat available for babies who were unable to sit unsupported, Mrs Casey said.
Although, it had been “really tricky”, she was satisfied the systems she had in place would work.
“[I spent] many, many, many hours on the phone with the Ministry of Health, and the Covid business line, and they just send you from one to the other and back to the other, trying to get an answer, because it’s not black and white like everything else.
“But I’m confident from what I’ve understood so far [and] from the amount of people I’ve spoken to.”
Photographs were being taken at the Harbour Street Collective Cafe from December 17 until Christmas Eve.
Because of the venue, everyone would need to have a vaccine pass.
“And of course, all our staff are vaccinated as well,” she said.
The same, but slightly updated, computer booking system is being used as last year. People can turn up, fill in their details on the computer, and they will get a link on their phone telling them when it is their turn.
“I’m expecting we’re going to be really, really busy,” she said.
Santa Claus loved the photo shoots and was “very keen to be back on board this year”.
Mrs Casey also loved it, but this year would be a bit different for her, she said.
“I’m a bit nervous about it this year, being that I’ll be 19 weeks pregnant and wearing a mask. That’s going to be a little bit tough.”