OTTAWA -- The Fairmont Chateau Laurier has closed its doors for the first time in its 108-year history because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At noon on Saturday, the last guests left the building. The hotel will be shut down for at least a couple of weeks.

“It was a difficult decision,” said Deneen Perrin, the hotel’s director of public relations.

“At the end of the day, we needed to keep in mind the safety and security of our colleagues and our guests.”

She also said guests understood the reason for the closure and were helpful in leaving the building as quickly as they could.

“Guests have been very good. They understand, and everybody wants to see that curve flatten so we can all get back to what we do best, and that’s serving our guests.”

Opened in 1912, the hotel survived two world wars without closure.

“It is definitely unprecedented, Perrin said. “For us, this is a very strange experience. We haven’t closed our doors since 1912 when we opened.”

Reaction from people walking by the hotel was supportive of the hotel’s decision.

“I wish we would see more places shutting down to take this a little more seriously,” said Emily, walking past on Wellington Street.

Claude, walking past with his wife Anne, said the hotel’s closure is a good thing.

“It’s nice that society is taking responsibility and trying to protect everybody,” he said.

Added Anne: “It’s important that they are protecting their employees. It’s not fair for those people in service positions to be the ones at risk.”

Perrin said there’s no timetable for the hotel to reopen. The goal is to re-evaluate in early April.

“This isn’t a goodbye. It really is a farewell for now, and we will see you hopefully very soon if everybody stays home and adheres to the quarantine.”