Harrods shuts its doors over coronavirus

London (AFP) –


Where the Blitz failed, coronavirus has succeeded.

The luxury London store Harrods, which stayed open throughout the bombing of the capital during World War II, announced on Friday it was closing its doors.

It will keep open its Food Halls and pharmacy, but the rest of the iconic department store in Knightsbridge will shut.

"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."

Three police officers and three members of the public were killed in the 1983 attack by members of the Irish Republic Army (IRA).

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."

Ward added: "Harrods is a symbol of resilience in a changing and often uncertain world, and I know that our values will ensure that we as a business come through this next chapter."

Another leading department store, Selfridges, closed its doors on Wednesday.