OTTAWA -- The Rideau Canal Skateway is seeing fewer daily visitors this winter, as it appears residents respected public health directions to exercise close to home during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Newly released statistics show there was an average of 19,779 visits a day on the world's largest skating rink between Feb. 8 and 14, which included the Valentine's Day weekend.

The NCC says there was an average of 22,000 visits per day during the 2020 skating season.

The most popular access points for the Rideau Canal Skateway are Dow's Lake and Mackenzie King West.

This is the 51st season of skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway. Due to COVID-19, change rooms and beverage stands are closed. Fire pits and picnic tables are unavailable.

The National Capital Commission suggested people follow public health advice to stay close to home during the COVID-19 lockdown that ended Feb. 16. People were encouraged to access NCC assets closest to their home, within their province of residence.

Last week was also the coldest week of the winter, with lows of minus 23C on Feb. 12 and minus 22.8C on Feb. 13.

The Rideau Canal Skateway opened for the season on Jan. 27. The full 7.8 kilometres of the skateway opened on Feb. 2.