While other luxury department stores such as Selfridges, Browns and Harvey Nichols had made full-closure announcements, London’s iconic Harrods was announcing it would close some of its departments such as foods.
Indeed, Harrods stayed open throughout the bombing of the capital during World War II, however, it eventually realised the circumstances are far more grave and soliciting immediate action to stop the spread of a life-threatening fast expanding virus.
“The welfare of our community of colleagues, customers and partners has been our absolute priority throughout this time of uncertainty,” managing director Michael Ward said in a statement.
“With this in mind, we have made the very difficult decision to close our doors from 7pm (1900 GMT), Friday 20th March.” He added: “Harrods has gone through many challenges during its 170-year history.
“We continued to trade and serve our customers during World War II, and only closed for a short period of time after the car bomb attack of the 1980s.”
The British government earlier this week advised its citizens to avoid any non-essential social contact or travel, particularly in London, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
A spokeswoman for Harrods told AFP that the store’s 5,000 staff would keep their jobs despite the closure, saying: “Nobody is being laid off.” Mention should be made that Harrods is fully owned by Qatar, therefore, such financial support measures are implicit.