The Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News said they were not able to survive the impact of the coronavirus epidemic in their current form.

The boards of the papers, which announced plans to merge in February, said they expected the liquidation to be finalised in the coming weeks.

They said “every effort” would be made to continue publishing over this period.

The newspapers announced their plans “with great sadness” in similarly worded statements on Wednesday.

Writing on Twitter, Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, said it was “devastating news for us”.

Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer said it was “a sad day for [the] 55 staff on both titles and the community they serve”.

In its statement published on their website, the Jewish Chronicle said its owner, the Kessler Foundation, was “actively working” to secure a future for the paper after the liquidation.

The Jewish News said it was working with the charitable foundation to secure its own post-liquidation future.

Staff are set to be made redundant at both outlets.

“I’ve been a JC [Jewish Chronicle] columnist since 1998,” Jonathan Freedland wrote on Twitter. “My father [Michael] wrote for the paper for 67 years, starting in 1951.

“It’s no exaggeration to say it is the beating heart of the British Jewish community. It must not be allowed to die.”

Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman said it was “terrible, terrible news”.

Founded in 1841, the Jewish Chronicle is the world’s oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper.

Jewish News was established in 1997 and is distributed for free weekly.

The news comes as the global Jewish community prepares to celebrate the annual festival of Passover.