TORONTO -- Premier Doug Ford wished Ontario residents a happy Canada Day on Wednesday, while urging them to follow public health advice as they celebrate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The premier issued the greetings and reminder in a statement Wednesday, saying that the country is dealing with “one of the darkest periods in Ontario’s history.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic touched everyone in the province, creating personal and financial hardship and resulting in losses far greater than anyone could have imagined,” he said in the statement.

“As a country, as a province and as a people, Canadians have always come together in the face of adversity and worked together to defeat the threats we faced. The past few months have been no exception.”

Ford reminded residents to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people, to stay two metres apart from anyone not in your social circle.

“Whether you're celebrating at the cottage, in a park, on a patio or at home this Canada Day, please remember to stay safe and act responsibly by following public health advice,” Ford said.

“Wear a mask when physical distancing is a challenge, and wash your hands frequently. Being considerate of others is the Canadian way.”

Across Ontario, cities are finding new physically distant ways to celebrate Canada’s 153rd birthday by holding virtual celebrations online. 

Hundreds tuned into the City of Toronto's all-day virtual celebration Wednesday morning.