The announcement comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all restaurants and cafes to close, although takeout places were exempt from the decision.
McDonald’s had still offered takeout and drive-through services, but their seating areas were closed off to the public, according to the BBC.
“We have taken the difficult decision to close all McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and Ireland by 7 pm on Monday, March 23 at the latest,” the company said. “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.”
The chain said staff employed directly by the company would receive full pay for their scheduled hours until April 5, the BBC reported. The company expects the government’s financial aid package to have kicked in by that time, in which staff will be paid 80 percent of their wages.
McDonald’s has about 135,000 employees in the UK.
Last week, UK company head, Paul Pomroy said they would stay open “for as long as it’s safe to do so.”
McDonald’s will close all 1,270 of its restaurants in the United Kingdom on Monday, over coronavirus fears, according to a company statement on Sunday.
“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,” Pomroy told the television network. “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.”
A spokeswoman told the BBC she expected other McDonald’s franchises — which decide their own pay policies — to follow soon.