OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Senators organization is temporarily laying off staff and reducing hours for other employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meantime, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is pledging to continue paying the salaries of part-time and hourly arena staff of the Senators and the AHL Belleville Senators for all scheduled shifts through the month of April.

Capital Sports and Entertainment announced the temporary employee reductions until hockey games and other events are allowed to resume. Ontario has prohibited gatherings larger than 5 people to help limit the spread of novel coronavirus.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Capital Sports and Entertainment said effective April 5, “the full-time workforce will be reduced, and the hours of some of the staff will be furloughed.” Sunday would have marked the end of the regular season for the Senators.

To reduce the financial impact on those employees being temporarily laid off, Capital Sports has created an unemployment plan for employees that will supplement employment insurance benefits until July 3. It will supplement EI benefits up to a minimum of 80 per cent of base salary.

The temporary layoffs of full-time employees will begin after all accumulated vacation days are used.

Capital Sports says for those not temporarily laid off, it will place some employees on furlough while others will have their salaries reduced. Employee health benefits will remain in place until business operations resume.

Earlier this week, both the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames announced temporary staff reductions because of the pandemic. Calgary Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Flames, will have a 60 day temporary layoff for certain personnel as well as salary rollbacks.

The Montreal Canadiens announced temporary layoffs last week.

Senators Part-time arena staff

Last month, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk announced he would cover the salaries of part-time and hourly arena staff of the Ottawa Senators and Belleville Senators until the end of the regular seasons.

Capital Sports says Melnyk is extending the commitment to pay part-time and hourly arena workers what they would have earned for all scheduled event shifts through the month of April.

With files from The Canadian Press