VICTORIA -- Face masks will soon be mandatory for all visitors to Butchart Gardens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting Oct. 1, the popular Victoria-area attraction will require everyone to don a non-medical mask when on the grounds.

Exceptions will be made when people are sitting down to eat or drink, though visitors will be expected to put their masks back on when finished.

Children under two years old will also be excepted from the rule, as will anyone with a medical condition or disability that inhibits wearing a face covering.

The attraction, which reopened at the beginning of May after closing in March, is also asking visitors to restrict themselves to groups of six people or less, including large family groups.

Visitors are also asked to maintain a distance of two metres from other guests and to keep children and pets at their side at all times.

Staff say failure to follow these guidelines will result in immediate removal from the grounds.

Guests will also be screened with a questionnaire before entering the gardens.

Anyone who has experienced cold- or flu-like symptoms, or who has travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days, will be denied entry.

Due to the pandemic, the garden will not be providing shared umbrellas and will not be allowing photographers to use tripods on the grounds as they can inhibit the flow of visitors on the pathways.