Restaurant chain Hawksmoor is closing all of its restaurants as coronavirus hits the hospitality industry and forces firms to cut jobs.
The London-based steakhouse and cocktail bar business announced the temporary measure “in the interest of public health” on Tuesday night.
A statement by owners Will Beckett and Huw Gott posted online said it meant they had to “end the employment of some of the wonderful people” who work for them.
It comes a day after Boris Johnson asked people to stop non-essential contact and avoid pubs in a bid to slow the spread of the disease.
Hawksmoor operates eight restaurants in London, Manchester and Edinburgh and had in 2020 planned to expand to New York.
Beckett and Gott said temporary move was aimed at guaranteeing the long-term survival of the chain. It is not known how many staff have lost their jobs.
The statement says: “As of tomorrow we will temporarily close all of the Hawksmoor restaurants – I feel that that is clearly what the government is advising us to do even if they are not mandating it. It is clearly in the interest of public health to do so and nothing is more important than that, in particular our responsibilities to the elderly and the vulnerable.
“I have also had to end the employment of some of the wonderful people who work at Hawksmoor. We have tried to treat those people as fairly as possible, paying full notice and we are trying to give them every guidance on how they can get extra support during these difficult times.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday announced a £330bn bailout for business, which includes rates relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.
Hawksmoor said the business won’t be offering a ‘click and collect’ service, despite the government relaxing planning laws so restaurants could transform into takeaways during the crisis.
The statement from Hawksmoor continues: “This enables us to make sure that Hawksmoor survives – not because of money or profit, but in order that the thing that we have all spent much of our professional lives building can go back to being a place where we can look after as many staff and customers as possible for years to come.
“We have made these difficult decisions in order to do what we can to protect the jobs of the hundreds of people we still employ during what may be a prolonged period of closure.
“This is of course tragic, and incredibly difficult for everyone. However, Hawksmoor will survive and we will quickly turn our attention to how we get through this period and what we can do to lend our strength to others who may need it. We hope that the government step in as promised to provide the safety net that so many people desperately need.”