COVID-19 forcing some changes to Remembrance Day ceremonies
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- For almost two decades, one of the biggest Remembrance Day ceremonies in the Maritimes has been indoors at what is now TD Station.
The venue is normally packed with six to seven thousand people, but that won't happen this year.
"The decision was made to go outdoors," says organizer Bernard Cormier. He says, this year, the ceremony will be held at the Kings Square Cenotaph.
There will be no choirs and no band; even the traditional wreath laying will be very different.
"The wreaths will be placed at the cenotaph ahead of time, before the ceremony and the wreath layers will be called and walk up and bow or if they're in uniform, they'll salute," Cormier says.
A spokesman for the legion in Moncton says there will be a ceremony at the coliseum, but for participants and invitees only.
Similarly in Halifax, the ceremony at the Grand Parade is being scaled back to include no more than 50 people, to try to meet provincial health guidelines.
In west Saint John, it certainly will not be our normal Remembrance Day service, says Larry Lynch, who is organizing two services, where they are also trying to limit the number of people who attend.
"It's pretty hard for us to tell people that they can't come, but we know there will be some people coming and when they do we ask them to please keep in their own bubbles and social distance from somebody they don't know," Lynch said.
And so, organizers say, this year, they are asking the public to find other ways to honour veterans.
"It seems a strange request that we are actually encouraging people not to come out to the ceremony because of COVID," said Cormier. "But we can't have thousands of people in Kings Square obviously. It would not be a good thing."
Organizers around the Maritimes say it would be unthinkable not to recognize Remembrance Day. They're just trying to do it without creating an additional risk to public health.