American fast-food chain McDonald's announced late on Sunday that it was closing all its restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland by Monday evening as part of its measures to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus.
The company said it took the decision to shut its venues by 07.00 p.m. local time (1900GMT) for the "safety" of its employees and "best interests" of the customers.
"Ahead of closing, all frontline health workers and emergency services personnel will get food and drink for free on sight of an ID," the statement added.
The U.K. Department of Health announced on Sunday that the death toll from the coronavirus was at 281, an increase of 48 in 24 hours. The total number of positive cases now stands at 5,683 in the country.
There are now 1,034 cases of COVID-19 on the island of Ireland and four registered deaths, according to the local daily Irish Mirror.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday that if U.K. citizens did not adhere more strictly to social distancing, then the government could introduce new measures.
His remarks followed a sunny weekend in the U.K., with social media filled with pictures of packed parks and public spaces.
The virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China last December, has spread to at least 167 countries and regions around the globe, killing over 14,750 people as of Monday, while the tally of confirmed cases exceeded 341,300 and those recovered exceeding 98,000.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global pandemic, warning that Europe had become the new epicenter of the outbreak.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.