Jill McDonald, CEO of coffee chain Costa, has announced that all 2,467 branches in the UK will close temporarily this evening.
In a statement, Mrs McDonald said that amongst the coronavirus outbreak, the safety of store teams and customers is the company’s number one priority.
She added: “We have taken the decision to temporarily close our stores from this evening, Monday 23rd March.
“We will do our best to keep Costa stores open in hospitals where we will continue to provide free takeaway coffee for the next two weeks to the NHS workers who are at the forefront of this crisis.
“Wherever possible, we will also keep our Costa Express machines available to serve you a great cup of coffee.
“During these unprecedented times, we are extremely grateful for the service our baristas have continued to deliver to our customers.
“As previously communicated, we will be paying all our store team members, whose store has closed, their full average weekly pay over eight weeks.
“We have pledged to provide support to those in need over the coming weeks and months, providing food and drink, and allowing our teams to support their own communities locally.
“This week we will deliver one million cans of coffee to other key workers across the country.”
The chain is the latest on the High Street to announce its closure as coronavirus spreads.
McDonald's, Nando's and Primark have shut their UK branches amid the outbreak.