Some of the UK’s biggest names have announced they are to close their stores as part of ongoing efforts to tackle the spread of Coronavirus.
McDonald’s, Nando’s, Primark, Harrods, John Lewis, Timpson and others have announced closures.
McDonald’s announced on Sunday evening that it would close every one of its 1,270 restaurants across the UK by 7pm today (Monday). It was followed by Nando’s that said it would close its 400 stores throughout the UK “until further notice”. Primark too said it was to close its 189 stores.
Each of the chains said the health and wellbeing of their staff was their priory concern as they announced their intentions to close. On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said all pubs, restaurants and cafes must close, but those offering takeaway services were allowed to remain open.
The majority of McDonald’s 135,000-strong UK workforce are employed on zero-hour contracts. The fast food chain said it would pay all staff directly employed in full until 5 April when the government’s pledge to pay 80% of workers’ wages is expected to kick in. Although McDonald’s franchises set their own policies for pay, a spokesperson for the company told the BBC that all franchises are expected to follow the central company’s lead.
McDonald’s UK boss, Paul Pomroy, said: “Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and Drive Thru restaurants is increasingly difficult and therefore we have taken the decision to close every restaurant in the UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday 23 March.
“I have been clear throughout this that we would only continue to operate whilst it was safe for our people and together with our franchisees, we feel now is the time to make this decision.”
Nando’s revealed on Sunday that company bosses had “decided that the best course of action right now is to temporarily close our restaurants”.
Primark boss Paul Marchant described the situation as “unprecedented, and frankly unimaginable times”. Similarly to McDonald’s, Primark said contracted staff would be paid in full for 14 days when the 80% pay will likely be introduced.
John Lewis as closed its 50 UK stores, but its online store remains active. Naturally, its Waitrose stores remain open and 2,000 John Lewis staff have been redeployed to support the supermarket cope with increased demands.
Other retailers to close include HMV, New Look, River Island and the Arcadia Group, including Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and Burton.
Next, WH Smith and B&Q are some of the biggest names to say they will remain open for the time being. Waterstones boss James Daunt said the book store chain will remain open “until it is forced to close”.