Macy's has said that Santa Claus will not be greeting kids at its New York store this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The change interrupts a tradition dating back nearly 160 years. Santa will also abstain from Chicago and San Francisco stores.
Crowds wanting to take a picture with the Christmas character would normally walk through close quarters through a winding Santaland filled with trees, toy trains, and costumed elves.
The company said Santa will still make an appearance during the televised Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, which will also be modified. Instead of going through its usual route in Manhattan, floats, performers, and giant cartoon balloons will be filmed in front of the Herald Square store in New York.
Macy's will also be offering a free online experience at the end of November, where families can get a virtual tour of Santa's workshop, play games, and take a selfie with Santa.
"Moving to a virtual engagement will safely bring the magic of Santa Claus to children of all ages this year," Macy's said in a statement to The Associated Press.