National museums, other public venues in Ottawa closing up as COVID-19 precautions

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Canada's national museums are set to shut their doors in Ottawa Saturday as the COVID-19 pandemic hits cultural venues across the country.

National Museums of Canada announced Friday that the public institutions will be closed until further notice to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Locally, the decision affects the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian War Museum, Ingenium and the National Gallery of Canada, as well as the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

"We regret the impact of this decision on the individuals, families and groups who use our facilities," the museums said in a statement. "However, we believe that this decision is in the best interests of all the communities we serve."

The National Arts Centre in Ottawa has also cancelled all performances and events through April 5.

In a statement Friday, president and CEO Christopher Deacon asked customers to be patient as the organization works to exchange or refund their tickets.

The National Ballet of Canada ended its run of "Romeo and Juliet" on Friday. The company said it expects its June season will go forward, but is monitoring developments.

Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group CEO Mark Goudie said in an email Friday that TD Place will postpone all events at the Lansdowne stadium and arena in the coming weeks, following earlier announcements that the Ontario Hockey League will follow other major sports organizations in suspending play.

The slew of cancellations Friday comes as officials in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta call for the suspension of all large events and public gatherings of more than 250 people.

Nepean MPP and Ontario's Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Minister Lisa MacLeod said in a statement that the ministry is meeting with sector stakeholders to stay apprised of the economic effects. Local officials told OBJ Thursday that they can’t currently guess the full impact COVID-19 will have on Ottawa’s tourism industry.

— With files from OBJ staff