Bakery and patisserie chain Paul UK has temporarily closed all 37 of its shops in London and Oxford.

Like many bakery and café operators, the business had remained open during the coronavirus pandemic, offering a takeaway-only service.

But, also like many of the major operators, it has now closed all its shops following last night’s (23 March) announcement of stricter measures by the government to encourage social distancing.

“We have temporarily closed the doors of all of our stores as of today. Our number one priority is the safety of our teams and customers, and we believe this is the best thing to do to help support social distancing,” said Paul UK CEO Mark Hilton.

The business has not closed its central bakery in Acton, West London, which will continue to operate The Bread Market retail outlet.

“Our Bread Market remains open, but we have taken steps to ensure queues don’t congregate, marking out lines to denote the acceptable two metres social distancing,” added Hilton.

Paul will also continue to donate unsold bread and freshly baked bread pudding to charity The Felix Project, which distributes surplus fresh food to those in need.