McDonald's Shifts to Take-Out Only Model Following Coronavirus Concerns, Closes Dining Room

McDonald's has made a big change to its operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, announcing this week that it will close seating areas and focus on serving customers through its Drive-Thru, walk-in take-out and McDelivery services. The change was made effective on Tuesday and also includes the closure of all PlayPlaces at U.S. locations.

"Ensuring the health and safety of our people and our communities is our highest priority as the United States quickly mobilizes to slow the spread of COVID-19," a press release reads. "Our decisions are guided by expert local and national health authority guidance. Additionally, we are complying with all local and state restaurant restrictions, where applicable."

The release also notes that independent franchisees "are strongly encouraged to adopt similar operations procedures while keeping the needs of their people and communities at the center of their decisions."

"It is remarkable how franchisees, suppliers, agencies and company employees have come together in recent days," said Joe Erlinger, President of McDonald’s USA. "During these uncertain times that impact all of us in personal ways, our ability to support each other, our people and our communities will ensure we emerge from this crisis stronger than before."

"Franchisee leadership completely supports the decision to adhere to social distancing guidelines and ensure that large groups of customers are not gathered together inside our restaurants," said Mark Salebra, National Franchisee Leadership Alliance Chair. "{We are committed to our role in supporting the communities in which we do business and protecting the public’s health by shifting our operations to Drive-Thru, walk-in take-out and McDelivery."

Other fast food restaurants including Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Shake Shack, Cava, Chop't, Jack in the Box, Arby's, Noodles and Co., Sonic, Dunkin', Chipotle, KFC and Starbucks have taken the same or similar measures, shutting down in-house dining and limiting their offerings to to-go only in several cases.

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There are currently over 227,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide and over 10,000 confirmed cases in the United States, as of this writing. Over 9,000 people have died around the world and over 84,000 have recovered. Many states in the U.S. have adopted strict measures to attempt to lessen the spread of the virus including closing schools, bars, restaurants and cinemas and numerous major events have been canceled or postponed. Some states have outright banned gatherings of over 50 people and much of San Francisco's Bay Area has been ordered to shelter in place for three weeks.

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