COVID-19 reshapes Canada Day celebrations from big parties to online shows

OTTAWA — A different kind of Canada Day is dawning this morning, with large celebrations in many parts of the country replaced with backyard barbecues and digital events.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of high-profile events like the annual pomp and pageantry on Parliament Hill in favour of online offerings to keep crowds from gathering.

Instead, the Ottawa shows will be streamed at midday and in the evening, followed by virtual fireworks as part of a buffet of digital activities Canadian Heritage has curated.

The 53 bells of the Peace Tower will still ring today, with two special recitals streamed live.

In other parts of the country, crowds may be able to gather for actual fireworks displays, including in Alberta.

On Tuesday, the province’s chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that up to 200 people could gather for audience-type outdoor community events such as fireworks and festivals.

“Celebrate Canada Day safely,” she tweeted. “Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay (two metres) apart.”

Heading into Canada Day, the country had 103,918 reported cases of COVID-19, including 8,566 deaths, based on figures released Tuesday by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press