CINEWORLD and Odeon have announced that they will be closing all UK cinema branches in a bid to tackle the coronovirus pandemic.

Cineworld informed staff that cinemas would be shutting this afternoon.

Odeon cinemas also issued a statement on Twitter, saying that they would be "closed until further notice", promising that ticket holders would receive a refund.

Cineworld Group CEO Mooky Greidinger said: “At Cineworld and Picturehouse, we are committed to providing safe and healthy environments for our employees and guests and have therefore made the difficult decision to close our cinemas in UK and Ireland until further notice.

“We deeply value our cinema-loving customers and have no doubt we will be serving everyone again as soon as possible with a full slate of Hollywood blockbusters and the best of independent films and content.”

Odeon has over 100 cinemas and 850 screens in the U.K. and Ireland, while Cineworld has 124 sites.

Showcase Cinemas, on the other hand, have confirmed that their venues remain open at the moment but are monitoring the situation.

People are being advised to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel to help limit the spread of Covid-19.

The Imperial College Covid-19 response team - which has been advising ministers - said that even with the "social distancing" plans set out by the Government, the health system will be "overwhelmed many times over".

In its latest report, it said the only "viable strategy" was a Chinese-style policy of "suppression" involving the social distancing of the entire population.

It said such measures would need to be maintained potentially for 18 months or more until an effective vaccine became available.