(Victoria Day Parade / Photo by Colin Smith Takes Pics)

Due to a provincial health order prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more, the 122nd annual Island Farms Victoria Day Parade has been cancelled for the first time in its decades-long history.

The main event was scheduled to take place on May 18th, while the 2nd Annual Douglas Mile and the Festival of Bands were scheduled to take place on May 16th and 17th. All three events have been cancelled.

According to the Greater Victoria Festival Society, the financial impact of cancelling the Victoria Day Parade is substantial as this event normally brings millions of dollars to the city’s tourism sector.

“We are asking our current entries to please be patient with us and in lieu of a refund asking if they consider allowing their entry fee to stand for the 2021 parade. This will help support our organization during these challenging times,” reads a statement from the festival society.

To replace the in-person parade, the organization is setting up a ‘Virtual Parade’, asking Canadian and American bands, performers, floats, and walking groups that usually take part in the event to send in videos or pictures of their most recent performances.

They will then compile these images into Virtual Parade for the public to enjoy while remaining in self isolation.

“We all have a role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19.  The Greater Victoria Festival Society is making every effort to protect our community. Social distancing and event cancellation is one way we can help take a proactive approach and ‘flatten the curve’,” says the society.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

As of March 19th, there are 271 cases of novel coronavirus in B.C. including 22 on Vancouver Island.

The federal government recently announced an $82 billion assistance package for Canadians and businesses struggling financially during the global pandemic.

Earlier this week, B.C. joined Alberta and Ontario in declaring a public health emergency in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth declared a provincial state of emergency to support the health ministry’s public health emergency.

The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C.

Canada has tightened its borders and is denying entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada.

U.S. citizens are no longer an exception to this rule, and non-essential travel between U.S. and Canada will be temporarily banned by March 21st. Moreover international flights have now been restricted to international airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19  line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 244,943.

Over 10,000 people have died from the illness and 87,408 have made a full recovery.