One of Ottawa’s most recognizable landmarks is temporarily closing its doors at noon on Saturday in an effort to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Chateau Laurier hotel said Friday it’s shutting down all of its operations until at least the beginning of April.
Chateau Laurier spokesperson Deneen Perrin said that with the number of cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise and public health officials urging people not to travel and maintain a strict policy of social distancing, shuttering the venerable lodging is the right thing to do.
“It was a very difficult decision, needless to say,” Perrin told OBJ. “But people are being asked to stay home, and we want to make sure that we’re doing our part.”
The closure affects all guest services as well as Zoe’s and Wilfrid’s restaurants, the health club and pool. In a statement, the hotel said a “very small group of employees” will remain on the property to maintain emergency services.
Nationally, the Hotel Association of Canada is warning that the industry is going to be devastated as travel comes to a halt in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The association says the hotel industry business has crashed over the past 10 days. It says the national occupancy average is below 10 per cent with other hotels also closing across the country.
Hotel owners need access to liquidity and flexibility from financial institutions in order to stay afloat, the association says.
The Chateau Laurier’s move comes at the end of a difficult week for Ottawa’s tourism industry, which figures to be among the hardest-hit sectors of the economy during the COVID-19 crisis.
Already, a number of small businesses catering to tourists such as escape rooms and guided tour operators say they’ve been forced to cut staff in anticipation of a massive dropoff in revenues.
Earlier this week, a group of local tourism entrepreneurs launched a campaign called “Keep Ottawa Awesome” aimed at encouraging consumers to purchase online gift certificates to participating businesses that can be cashed in at a later date.
– With files from Canadian Press