WASHINGTON, D.C. — The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Monday it had granted a permit to Santa Claus to enter the United States with his reindeer on Christmas Eve.
“The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 7 p.m. December 24, 2019 and 7 a.m. December 25, 2019, through or over any U.S. border port,” the agency wrote in a news release.
The secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, said Santa’s fees were also waived to ensure smooth travels for the holiday.
“With a growing world population, Mr. Claus will have his busiest Christmas yet. At USDA, we want to ensure we are not hindering Mr. Claus’ important work of spreading Christmas Cheer for all to hear,” Perdue said.
The USDA said Santa’s flying reindeer were required to undergo special testing to make sure they can land safely on rooftops and adjust to changing altitudes and temperatures. The veterinarian who screened the animals noted in his report that Rudolph tested positive for “red nose syndrome,” but as this was normal for Rudolph, the veterinarian said he was not concerned. Additionally, all of Santa’s reindeer are up to date on their vaccinations.
APHIS said port personnel would clean and disinfect the runners of Santa’s sleigh at the time of his entry into the United States as well as inspect the reindeer visually. They also plan to ask Santa to disinfect his boots and wash his hands thoroughly.
“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,” the news release stated.
The USDA said Santa provided a list in advance of the items expected to arrive through ports on his sleigh. While his gifts are expected to include a “variety of food items,” the agency said all of them have been cleared and do not pose a threat to either animal or plant health.
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