Victoria’s iconic Empress Hotel has announced their decision to temporarily shut down all services in light of COVID-19.

The suspension of all services will take effect immediately as of today, Tuesday March 24th, leaving the establishment’s 500 employees temporarily out of work.

“We are currently planning to reevaluate in the coming weeks and will provide updates on a reopening date as information becomes available,” said Empress spokesperson Tracey Drake in an emailed statement to Victoria Buzz.

“The suspension of hotel operations includes all guest services including overnight stays, Willow Stream Spa, health club and pool, as well as all food and beverage offerings including Q at the Empress Restaurant, Q Bar, Tea at the Empress, retail stores and event spaces.”

Staff members at the hotel have confirmed to Victoria Buzz that no compensation or benefits were provided to those laid off by the Fairmont Empress.

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

Drake states that a small number of employees will remain on the property to maintain emergency services. These include security and maintenance staff.

The closure of the historic Empress hotel marks the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Victoria’s tourism industry.

According to the latest updates, there are currently 472 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. including 39 on Vancouver Island.