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Remembrance Day planners scrambling as COVID-19 upends traditional ceremonies

Last Updated Oct 10, 2020 at 9:21 am PDT

The 2019 National Silver Cross Mother Mrs. Reine Samson Dawe, middle left, and Governor General Julie Payette, middle left, watche the parade during the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Monday Nov. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Legion is doing something that would normally be unthinkable: Discouraging people from attending Remembrance Day ceremonies in person.

The legion is instead urging Canadians to watch TV or go online on Nov. 11 to commemorate the sacrifices of those who have fought and died in uniform.

The request comes as the number of new COVID-19 cases in Canada continues to rise, which has forced governments across the country to impose restrictions on large gatherings.

While the ceremonial parts of most Remembrance Day events are still going ahead and will be broadcast on TV and online, some organizers are still scrambling to iron out the details amid shifting public health guidelines.

That includes those overseeing the national ceremony in Ottawa, where the legion is planning to have only 100 people participate.

Legion director of communication Nujma Bond says around 30,000 people attend the national ceremony during normal times.