The CEO of retailler Pets at Home has issued an urgent message to customers - outlining the steps the company is taking to combat the coronavirus crisis.

While many shops have closed down, supermarkets and stores such as Pets at Home have been permitted to remain open.

The Prime Minister has allowed pet shops and veterinary practices to stay open to serve pet owners essential items and deal with essential and emergency health needs.

What has the CEO of Pets at Home - Peter Pritchard said?

In a letter to shoppers, he said: "I want to reassure you that we are here to help you care for your pet in these unsettling times.

"We will keep you informed as the situation develops so please do check our website, Facebook Page, VIP app and emails for future updates."

What changes will take place in all Pets at Home stores?

There are clear guidelines the government have laid down which have been implemented  immediately by the retailler.

They include:

• Only a small number of people will be allowed into the shop or practice at any one time, so please if customers absolutely need to shop, they have been urged to come on their own.

• Pets at Home must operate a queuing system outside of the store. Customers have been reminded to bring an umbrella in case it rains.

• Social distancing rules are now in effect at all stores - these will be made clear on arrival by staff and signage.

• All shops will only accept card payments (ideally contactless), cash is not allowed.

• Opening hours have been restricted between Monday and Friday from 9am to 6pm and for weekend opening hours (For Saturday and Sunday hours - visit the website to check local stores). Peter said: "This will give us more time to do further cleaning and ensure shelves are stocked. Please check our website for our store or practice before leaving to ensure they are open and only call us if you absolutely need to."

• All pets within Pets at Home stores are now no longer on the shop floor, but customers have been informed that they are being loved and taken care of by staff in dedicated facilities.

• All Groom Room salons are closed.

• Only buy absolute essential items so that staff can serve all customers quickly and safely.

• While all suppliers continue to work hard, Pets at Home have reduced their ranges but, say they will do their best to ensure restricted diets and veterinary specialist diets are kept available.

• Their website remains open 24-hours a day. Whilst there will some delays to deliveries, they will continue to operate it as normally as they can.

Peter added: "I know these are worrying times for everyone.

"Never have I been prouder of my colleagues throughout the entire business, who through adversity have given their all to serve our customers.

"They are tired and worried like you but have chosen to come to work to ensure the nation’s pets are fed and kept healthy.

"A smile goes such a long way and we would really appreciate you being super patient as everyone is working hard to support you and your pets.

"Thank you so much for your support and most of all, please take care and be safe."