McDonald’s Will Pause Dining Room Reopenings for Three Weeks
At this point in 2020, it’s safe to say that a lot of folks have taken their eye off the ball (at least a little bit) when it comes to stopping the spread of Covid-19. It’s totally understandable: many of us have been more or less trapped inside for months, and the need to socialize is real. But as states like Florida, Arizona, and Texas have learned over the past week or two, just because we want to stop caring about the virus doesn’t mean it’ll go away.
With that in mind, McDonald’s has become the first big restaurant chain to put their foot down and take precautions that exceed what some states currently require. According to Restaurant Business Online, the fast food chain will pause any further reopening of dining rooms across the US for the next three weeks, until at least July 21.
Outlined in a letter from McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger and National Franchise Leadership Alliance chair Mark Salebra sent on Thursday, July 2, the decision was informed by data suggesting a renewed spread of the virus: “COVID-19 cases are on the rise—with a 65% increase in infections over the last two weeks. In the last seven days, 32 states saw increasing cases and this number appears to be growing.”
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About 2,200 of America’s 14,000 McDonalds (roughly 15 percent) have reopened their dining rooms to date. The letter notes that any opened dining rooms “should carefully review any new guidance from state and local officials,” while also noting that McDonald’s is comfortable with franchisees making the decision to re-close their dining rooms even where it’s not required by law. McDonald’s locations that do choose to keep their dining rooms open are advised to make sure employees (and ideally customers) wear masks and have access to necessary PPE.
The decision comes at a time of renewed scrutiny over the speed at which certain states reopened for indoor dining. Florida just reported 10,000 new Covid-19 cases in a single day, and Arizona has asked the federal government for 500 additional medical personnel after observing 88 deaths on Wednesday, July 1. States in the northeast like New York and New Jersey recently scrapped their plans for a return to limited indoor dining, citing that move’s correlation with a Covid-19 spike in states further south and west.
The good news is that many McDonald’s locations still have drive-thru and takeout service. If for whatever reason you simply can’t live without eating a Big Mac in a McDonald’s booth, well, tough luck.
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