OTTAWA -- You are being invited to celebrate Canada’s 153rd birthday virtually this year.

The federal government has announced that in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person birthday festivities in Ottawa and Gatineau on July 1 will be cancelled.

In a statement, Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault said the government has “decided to celebrate Canada Day differently this year, in a way that will allow us to come together virtually to share our pride in being Canadian.”

The big Canada Day festivities were scheduled to be held at Major’s Hill Park this year, after renovations to Centre Block forced officials to move the party off of Parliament Hill.

Guilbeault says Canadian Heritage is now working with Canadian artists and artisans to put together a virtual program, “reflecting our diversity and values, and showcasing the immense talent our country has to offer.”

Details on the virtual Canada Day celebrations on July 1 are expected to be announced soon.

In a message on Twitter, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said “the cancellation of Canada Day celebrations on the Hill is regrettable, but it’s the right decision to keep everyone safe.”

Watson adds “I look forward to welcoming you all back to Ottawa in 2021!”

Watson said earlier this month that “I don’t think we’re going to have the kind of Canada Day celebration that we all wanted and we’ve all seen in years gone by.”

The comments came as the City of Ottawa extended the ban on all outdoor gatherings and large events until June 30.

Last week, organizers announced the Canada Day celebrations at Clarke Fields in Barrhaven will not take place this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.