Pret A Manger and other leading stores are vowing to keep stores open, despite the UK government advising the public to avoid social venues over the coronavirus pandemic.
The popular cafe chain, which has 450 stores worldwide, announced it will continue serving customers but confirmed new health measures including banning reusable cups and changing opening hours.
The company said all staff now wash their hands every half an hour and immediately after handling cash. Cutlery and napkins have been moved behind tills to prevent them being touched by multiple customers, and no water glasses will be provided.
Pret’s CEO Pano Christou said in a message posted on its site on Tuesday: “We are living in unprecedented times, and as the everyday is rapidly changing, I want to reassure you that everyone at Pret is devoted to taking care of you when you shop with us.”
The company will continue to honour the discount for customers who bring their own cups or flasks, even if they will no longer be used. Unsold food will also continue to be donated to shelters.
The statement added: “We are carefully following government advice around ensuring that team members self-isolate as required. We have a comprehensive employee assessment process for all those who work for us.”
Opening hours could be changed, but the chain did not give further details.
Many firms now face a difficult choice about whether to remain open, with customer numbers already dropping and now expected to plummet. Prime minister Boris Johnson urged the public to avoid restaurants, pubs and other “social venues” on Monday.