VICTORIA -- The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) has closed pedestrian access to the Ogden Point Breakwater after officials found that people visiting the walkway were not adhering to physical distancing guidelines set out by the province.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, provincial health authorities have ordered all residents to remain at least two metres apart from each other while out in the community to help curb the spread of the illness.

According to the GVHA, the Ogden Point Breakwater is large enough for users to abide by the order. However, the harbour authority found that many pedestrians were not practising physical distancing, even though there was enough room on the walkway.

“This decision comes after several incidents where community members were seen in close proximity and not adhering to the mandate by the provincial health officer to practise social distancing,” said the GVHA in a statement Monday.

“We typically see more than 450,000 people use the walkway each year. With the recent sunny weather, tied in with the impact of COVID-19, we unfortunately didn’t see those numbers slow down,” said Ian Robertson, CEO of the GVHA.

Signs will soon be installed at the breakwater and along the lower oceanfront notifying pedestrians of the area’s closure.

The GVHA says that it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and that other areas that the harbour authority operates may close down in the future, such as the inner harbour lower causeway, Ship Point and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Currently, the ramp gate leading to some float homes at Fisherman’s Wharf has been closed, and walkways to other float homes have been roped off.

As of Monday, visitors of Fisherman’s Wharf were still allowed to purchase take-out food and beverages from businesses there.

“While it is a difficult decision to close a space that Victorians love, this is in the best interest of our collective health and safety and our requirement to help flatten the curve,” said Robertson.

The Ogden Point Breakwater will be closed starting Tuesday, March 24 at 7 a.m.

“Decisions on additional closures and operations changes will be made on a daily basis as the need arises,” said the GVHA.