McDonald’s, according to CEO Chris Kempczinski, has reopened 95% of its restaurants in China after hundreds of units were shuttered in the country that was the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus contagion until recently. Meanwhile, the international quick service restaurant chain is increasingly closing outlets or limiting service to takeout or delivery in many countries now being impacted by the spread of Covid-19 around the world.
“We have taken the difficult decision to close all McDonald’s restaurants in UK and Ireland by 7 pm on Monday 23rd March at the latest,” announced the company in a tweet on Sunday.
The shutdown followed an order issued by United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday to shutter restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centers nationwide. Restaurants and pubs, however, are allowed to continue providing takeout services to customers.
Britain currently has recorded more than 4,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infections, while at least 177 deaths have been attributed to the respiratory disease.
In United States, where state governments have increasingly ordered restaurants and bars to close their doors or cease in-house service to help curb the spread of viral infections, many establishments are offerings takeout and/or drive-through service. McDonald’s is among them.
“I have been enormously proud to see how our independent franchisees have stepped up to help their customers and communities at this unsettling time,” stated McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger. “Embedded in their communities, many of them are offering free breakfasts and lunches to children who are now out of school. They are offering free drive-thru meals to older people who might be in need, and free coffee to first responders and healthcare workers. They are allowing their parking lots to be used for medical purposes. They are helping to feed people at Salvation Army shelters. Every day, more and more stories pour in that are inspiring and prove again and again what is best about the Golden Arches.”
He added: “While we continue to serve our communities, the safety, wellness and economic security of our customers and employees is our top priority as it has been throughout our 65-year history and especially today. That’s why we have taken significant precautions to protect our customers and employees from Covid-19 – closing many of our dine-in sections, closing all play areas, increasing cleanings, particularly in high-traffic areas, and making hand sanitizer available in our restaurants.”
Lessons Learned in PRC
In China, where the novel coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2) originated and rapidly spread from the city of Wuhan, McDonald’s emergency actions included stepped up hygiene, contactless delivery, changing operations of restaurants, and providing meals to healthcare workers, through the Charity Kitchen Program. Lessons learned in the PRC – where there are approximately 3,300 McDonald’s units that make up about one-tenth of the total restaurant count and last year generated nearly 5% of sales and 3% of operating profit – are being applied throughout the company’s global system.
The system employs upwards of 2.2 million people worldwide, many of whom are currently supporting first responders, hospital and healthcare personnel with free food and/or drinks in recognition and support of the work they are doing to help others during the coronavirus crisis.
Across Europe, many operators are providing free drinks, coffee and meals to first responders and healthcare workers on the front lines.
In Guatemala, the restaurants are providing food to workers who are constructing temporary hospitals to support treatment of those diagnosed with Covid-19. All meals include supportive messages from the McDonald’s crew to the medical professionals and workers.
In the Philippines, food is being distributed to medical health workers, NGO volunteers and parts of the population that are experiencing challenges accessing food.
Hamburger University in Brazil is making courses in food safety, hygiene and sustainable development available to micro/small food businesses.