Australian chef Bill Granger, best known in Sydney for his string of Bills cafes and the person credited with making smashed avocado a world-wide phenomenon, has announced he is temporarily closing all his London restaurants. The restaurateur has four eateries in the English capital under the banner Granger & Co, but says that it will be almost impossible to continue after the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised the public to avoid bars, restaurants and cafes in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.

"Today we have made the devastating and sickening decision to temporarily close our restaurants in London," Granger wrote on Instagram. "In 27 years in this business, I have barely closed, and my restaurants are usually open 364 days of the year from early morning to late at night. In a business that is based on looking after other people – staff and customers – I am being left with a decision to potentially kill the livelihood of 250 people and this is cruel and unfair. I am shocked that as business owners we have been saddled with this impossible responsibility, and feel like we’ve been hijacked by a survival-of-the-fittest ideology that we have to manage with no support by those who impose it."

Granger says that small- and medium-sized businesses like his, that have almost no income at the moment, are able to look after their employees for a few weeks at the most. "I urge the government to allow us, myself, my team and my fellow friends in the hospitality industry, to do what we do best, to look after and continue to pay our valued team members now until we can start trading again."

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He says that while he understands there is no precedent for the situation, and that saving lives is a priority, the government needs to consider the livelihoods of those affected. There is no word on whether Granger's Sydney eateries will also temporarily close as the pandemic progresses.