The Mexican street-food chain Wahaca has temporarily closed both of its Fitzrovia restaurants following reports of a norovirus outbreak that has hit many of its outlets across London.

Front of restaurant
Tables and chairs laid out but the doors are shut at Wahaca’s Charlotte Street restaurant and takeaway.

The London Evening Standard reported that restaurants in Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, Soho, Canary Wharf and Westfield Shepherd’s Bush, are shut due to what are described as “unforeseen circumstances”. Public Health England is investigating after more than 200 workers and 160 customers fell ill with vomiting bug symptoms after a suspected outbreak of norovirus over the past week.

Poster in window.
“Sorry we’re closed today, ” states a poster at the Charlotte Street branch.

The Standard reported that the Charlotte Street branch was one of many that remain open in London today, but when Fitzrovia News visited the premises this lunchtime it too was closed.

Tables, chairs and menus were laid outside the restaurant in Charlotte Street, and the lights were on but the doors were closed and a poster and a notice on the company’s website explained they had to close the restaurant temporarily.

Wahaca’s second Fitzrovia branch in Great Portland Street (Oxford Circus) remained closed this lunchtime.

In a statement on the company’s website about the closures Wahaca said:

“Last week a number of our staff and customers were struck down by what is suspected to be the winter vomiting bug, norovirus.

“We assessed each case and when it became clear they were not isolated incidents, we got in touch with relevant officials at Public Health England and Environmental Health Offices. In tandem with that, we took our own precautionary measures — voluntarily closing affected restaurants, carrying out anti-viral deep cleaning at all of our restaurants, whether affected or not, and ensuring that any staff member who had reported illness remained off site until their symptoms had ceased for at least 48 hours.

“Our amazing teams have worked tirelessly to ensure that we have done everything within our power to limit any risk to our customers and team members, and the situation remains under control and we continue to work with all local authorities to monitor this closely.

“The majority of our restaurants are open and we hope to reopen the 4 remaining sites, on a case by case basis, as soon as we feel we are ready to do so.

“We are incredibly sorry that people have been unwell. In the 9 years since we first opened Wahaca we have never had such an unprecedented incident, and we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of how this may have happened,” said the statement.