TORONTO -- The tradition of raising the Pride flags at city hall will continue today to mark the start of Pride Month, an annual celebration that will look quite a bit different this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor John Tory said this year's flag-raising ceremony will be significantly smaller than in years past.

"It is a bittersweet thing. Bittersweet because we are going to be up on the podium at city hall raising those flags today, but there is only going to be four people there and it is going to be much less of a festive occasion than normal," he said during an interview with CP24 on Monday morning.

"It still symbolically as important as ever."

The city is encouraging people to watch a live stream of the event at noon today and to raise flags from their own balconies or windows.

“It is symbolic of the beginning of a whole month of celebrations and by celebrations, yeah we have a good party, and this year it will be a party that is kind of online, but it is a very important month in the context of celebrating human rights," Tory said.

"I just hope people will take the time to celebrate, yes, but also to remember why we have a pride month, beyond the partying, and take part of those activities online."

Earlier this month, Pride Toronto announced that it would be hosting a "Virtual Pride Month" this year due to public health measures currently in place to slow the spread of the virus.

“We’ve looked at a couple of different platforms. We’re definitely leveraging some of the things that we’ve seen work really well,” Pride Toronto’s Amber Moyle told CP24 in an interview earlier this month.

“We’ve partnered with Club Quarantine for our June 1 launch event. They’re currently using Zoom platforms, but we’re going to be leveraging a number of different opportunities and partners to make sure we get the word out to everybody.”

The Pride Parade, a massive event that typically attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the city each year, will also continue online this year on June 28.