Tongue-in-cheek press release:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a movement permit to S. Nicholas Claus, of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited. The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 7 p.m. December 24, 2020 and 7 a.m. December 25, 2020, through or over any U.S. border port.
“This is a holiday season like no other. But as I told my grandkids, Santa has immunity to COVID, so he and his reindeer will circle the globe as planned,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach.
“We are all looking forward to Mr. Claus’ special brand of Christmas cheer, this year more than ever. To help ensure a smooth trip, USDA worked with Worldwide Gifts Unlimited to issue this permit in advance and waived all applicable fees.”
Veterinary officials ensured the reindeer met all entry requirements before issuing the permit. It was noted on the health certificate that one reindeer, Rudolph, has a minor physical anomaly. The veterinarian indicated that Rudolph’s red nose, while bright, was normal for him and not a concern.
The reindeer will arrive pulling a wooden sleigh with jingling bells attached, filled with brightly wrapped gifts. Port personnel, who will wear appropriate personal protective equipment and follow all COVID-19 safety rules, will clean and disinfect the runners and underside of the sleigh at the time of entry. They will also conduct a short visual inspection of the reindeer. Claus will disinfect his boots and thoroughly wash his hands. These measures are intended to prevent the entry of any livestock diseases the team may encounter during deliveries to farms around the world prior to entering the United States.
Claus also provided an advance list of what port personnel should expect upon their arrival. This includes a variety of food items, all of which come from approved locations and none of which pose a threat to U.S. animal or plant health.
“It’s important that Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited take all the right steps and precautions to protect against the potential introduction of pests and diseases,” Claus explained. “I appreciate USDA’s assistance every year as we gear up for our big night.”
Whether you see the smiles, joy, and wonder on children’s faces this Christmas morning in person or on video chat, enjoy the moment. Happy holidays from USDA!