AS coronavirus fears escalate by the day, McDonald's officials announced over the weekend that every UK restaurant will be closing today (March 23).

Stores in Reading, West Berkshire and Bracknell, along with all others, will close at 7pm today for the foreseeable future.

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A statement has been released by chief executive officer for McDonald's UK and Ireland, Paul Pomroy.

He said: "I am incredibly grateful to our brilliant employees who have been working hard to continue to serve you safely in difficult circumstances.

"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 and therefore we have taken the decision to close every restaurant in the UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday, March 23.

"We have not taken this decision lightly and know that our restaurants have been playing an important role in the community providing hundreds of thousands of free drinks to frontline health and social workers and emergency services personnel."

READ MORE: Five stories you may have missed in Bracknell this week He added that the company would be working closely with community groups to distribute food from restaurants to those most in need, and will ensure frontline health workers and emergency services personnel will not have to pay for food or drinks ahead of the closure this evening.

He added: "I want to thank every single one of our 135,000 employees.

"I am so proud of them all for adapting so quickly to a constantly evolving work environment, taking every step to keep our customers, couriers and teams safe and looking after each other so very well.

"We will continue to update you thorough our website, social media channels and email alerts in the coming weeks but in the meantime we thank you for your continued support and custom.

"Take care of one another in these unprecedented times, we look forward to seeing you again as soon as it is safe for us to reopen."