Fears over the fast-moving coronavirus will force the closure of more than 1,200 McDonald’s locations in the UK, the chain announced over the weekend.
The move comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Friday announcement that all UK restaurants must cease dine-in services. Takeaway options and drive-thru services are a core component of the chain’s business, but McDonald’s said it made the decision to close all stores to protect employees and customers.
“Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and Drive Thru restaurants is increasingly difficult,” said McDonald’s UK boss, Paul Pomroy. “And therefore we have taken the decision to close every restaurant in the UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday 23 March.”
The chain will remain closed through at least April 5th, paying employees full wages and benefits. McDonald’s employs around 135,000 people in the UK.
“I have been clear throughout this that we would only continue to operate whilst it was safe for our people and together with our franchisees, we feel now is the time to make this decision,” Pomroy.
The government’s financial aid package should be available to employees by then, the chain said. The package should cover approximately 80 percent of lost wages.
Coronavirus Around the Globe
In China, where the virus originated, McDonald’s has reopened its doors as the spread of the virus has slowed. But as coronavirus makes its way across the globe, restaurants and scores of other businesses are taking financial hits. In the US, major cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York are under lockdown. To slow the spread of the virus, cities have canceled public gatherings and people are being urged to stay home.