Sandwich chain Subway will close upwards of 2,000 locations across the UK tonight due to global coronavirus concerns.
The retailer has authorised individual shop owners to close UK stores in a move that follows the likes of Costa, Starbucks and McDonald's.
Stores are expected to close from 5pm today, but there are still questions about what will happen to jobs as the retailer works on a franchise model.
Bosses made the decision to "help support social distancing" and "keep everyone as healthy as possible for as long as possible."
It comes after Boris Johnson ordered pubs, clubs, leisure centres and theatres to close on Friday in a bid to stop COVID-19 spreading.
In a statement, Subway said: "We want to do everything in our power to protect our loyal guests, dedicated Franchise Owners and amazing Sandwich Artists.
"So, for that reason, we have authorised all our Franchise Owners to close their stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 5pm today (23rd March 2020), until further notice.
"We believe this is the best thing to help support social distancing and keep everyone as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
"However, many of our Franchise Owners are continuing to support the nation’s frontline workers in their amazing efforts by donating food responsibly, over the next few days.
"We’ll be back with you as soon as we can."
Fast good giants McDonald's will also close all its 1,350 outlets in the UK and Ireland tonight.
All stores will be shut by 7pm – despite admitting they are on the frontline in the efforts to beat the virus.
The company had previously been offering free drinks to those in the emergency services, health and social care workers if they showed their work IDs.
But in a statement, the fast food giant confirmed it had taken the "difficult decision" to close the branches because maintaining safe social distancing was "increasingly difficult".
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