All McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and Ireland will close by 7pm on Monday – in a move the fast-food company says is to protect the safety of its employees and customers.

The firm, which has 135,000 workers in the UK and Ireland, said it was a difficult decision which it had not taken lightly.

The chicken restaurant chain Nando’s also said it was to close more than 400 of its outlets in the UK until further notice, saying the health and safety of our customers and team is our highest priority.

The announcements come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for pubs, clubs and restaurants to shut on Friday amid the coronavirus outbreak, although he stressed they could continue with a takeaway service.

McDonald’s said: We will work with local community groups to responsibly distribute food and drink from our restaurants in the coming days.

Thank you to 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.

Primark has closed all its shops in the UK and the airline Emirates says it will suspend flights to most destinations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Primark said it took the decision to shut 189 stores across the country with the health and welfare of our employees and customers in mind.

Some 37,000 workers will be affected by the closures but will be provided with full pay for 14 days, the company has confirmed.

John Lewis, Topshop, New Look and key cutting and shoe repair company Timpson have also announced store closures.

Primark’s parent company, Associated British Foods (ABF), reportedly said it had cancelled all new clothing orders from suppliers such as factories in India and Bangladesh but will continue to honour orders already shipped or delivered to warehouses or stores.

ABF earlier shut stores in France, Spain, Italy and Austria – where governments have already put restrictions on non-essential shops opening to try to combat the threat of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Dubai-based Emirates has cut flight destinations from 145 locations to just 13 countries as demand for international travel falls and governments across the world try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The airline has described it as a painful but pragmatic decision, which aims to protect jobs.

The company’s chief executive Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum says they cannot viably operate passenger services until countries re-open their borders, and travel confidence returns.

Emirates Group said it will continue to operate cargo flights through its fleet of Boeing 777 freighters for the transport of essential goods, including medical supplies across the world.

It also said the company would reduce salaries for the majority of its employees for three months, but will not cut jobs.

Last week British Airways said its pilots will be taking a 50% pay cut in April and May.

EasyJet and the pilots’ union have signed an agreement to minimise the risk of pilot lay-offs in the UK over the next 18 months, including a pay freeze and asking all crew to take unpaid leave for three months.

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(c) Sky News 2020: Coronavirus: McDonald’s, Nando’s and Primark shut UK branches amid outbreak