Coronavirus: Primark closes all UK shops as Emirates stops most flights

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.

All McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and Ireland will close by 7pm on Monday.

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 and New Look 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 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.

McDonald’s, which has 135,000 employees in the UK and Ireland, said it had made the decision to close “with the well-being and safety of our employees in mind as well as in the best interests of our customers”.

It added: “We will work with local community groups to responsibly distribute food and drink from our restaurants in the coming days.”

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