All McDonald's outlets in the UK and Ireland will close by 7pm on Monday 23 March in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the fast food chain announced in a statement.
The chain previously chose to operate a takeaway and drive thu only service in light of the Government's advice on social distancing, but tonight (22 March) it made the 'difficult decision' to temporarily close its UK outlets.
McDonald's said in a statement: "We have taken the difficult decision to close all McDonald's restaurants in the UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday 23 March at the latest.
"This is not a decision we are taking lightly, but one made with the well-being and safety of our employees in mind as well as in the best interests of our customers.
"We will work with local community groups to responsibly distribute food and drink from our restaurants in the coming days.
"Thank you to all our brilliant employees for their hard work during this incredibly challenging time.
"We look forward to seeing you all again as soon as it is safe for us to reopen."
On Wednesday (18 March), McDonald's closed its seating areas and delayed its McDonald's Monopoly promotion following Government advice about social distancing to limit the spread of coronavirus.
McDonald's UK and Ireland boss Paul Pomroy said at the time: "The wellbeing of our employees, customers and suppliers remains of the greatest importance to us and these changes are designed with you all in mind.
"We have not taken this decision lightly and will continue to review this over the coming days."
Now the company has gone even further to protect customers and staff from Covid-19.
The news comes after PM Boris Johnson reiterated the importance of following Government advice on social distancing in his daily briefing. He said: "Take this advice seriously. Follow it because it's absolutely crucial. We have to slow the spread of the disease."
Johnson also announced that 1.5 million people considered to be 'high risk' would soon receive letters or text messages instructing them to stay at home for 12 weeks and shield themselves from infection.
People who can't get out to get food and other essential supplies will have parcels delivered to their doorsteps, as the Government works with the military on a regional distribution network that will take over pubs and other community hubs.
The UK's death toll has now risen to 281, with a total of 5,683 confirmed cases.
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Featured Image Credit: PA
Topics: uk news, Coronavirus, mcdonalds