Ho ho Hoboken: Santacon descends on city bars with vaccine requirement in place

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HOBOKEN, N.J. — Hordes of Santas took to the streets of Hoboken on Saturday, despite some concerns that Santacon could turn into a COVID superspreader.

“I’m happy we are all able to get together to celebrate the holidays even though there is a pandemic going on,” participant Jessica Gilzow said.

The annual pub crawl came days after some of New York City’s SantaCon participants announced on social media that they tested positive for COVID-19. Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said he would have stopped the festivities if he could, but said the city was powerless to shut down a private event.

“We are just here to have a good time,” Joe Mosca said outside of a Hoboken bar Saturday. “We’re young people, so we’re not too worried about COVID.

Bhalla issued an emergency order Thursday that required every restaurant and bar participating in SantaCon to check for proof of vaccination: “If you are not vaccinated, and you intend to come to Hoboken for SantaCon, you are not welcome,” he told PIX11 News on Friday.

But there is concern the omicron variant has been producing breakthrough infections at a rapid rate. If that’s the case, then these Santas could bring home unwanted gifts for Christmas.

Governor Phil Murphy tweeted on Saturday that there was a one-day total of 7,965 positive tests. 

As Hoboken resident Corrie Stein walked past some Santas she said, “People are going to do what they want to do, and they are requiring the vaccines,” Corrie Stein said, walking past a group of Santas. “So, hopefully, it doesn’t spread everything too much.”

Hoboken officials said various government agencies were out doing spot checks to make sure participating establishments were checking for vaccination. Anyone not in compliance could get a summons, lose their liquor license or even be shut down.

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