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Some McDonald's franchised restaurants could go back to off-premises offerings only.

McDonald’s revisits dining room closure guidelines amid delta variant case surges

McDonald’s recently met with franchisees to emphasize safety guidelines, including steps franchisees could take should they choose to close dining rooms

McDonald’s recently met with franchisees to emphasize and revisit the chain’s ongoing COVID-19 safety guidelines, including steps to take should they choose to reclose dining rooms amid the surge of COVID-19 delta variant cases, according to notes from the meeting with McDonald’s president Joe Erlinger viewed by Nation’s Restaurant News.

McDonald’s emphasized that the company has been regularly meeting with franchisees in town hall-style meetings since the beginning of the pandemic to reinforce safety procedures. The safety guidelines — including recommendations on whether to close dining rooms — have been regularly updated since May 2020. Franchisees, however, make their own decisions on dining room closures in coordination with local field offices, and do not receive orders from corporate.

Currently, McDonald’s is requiring face masks for all customers and employees in area of virus hotspots.

“In consultation with public health experts and Mayo Clinic, we’ve enhanced over 50 safety policies and procedures in restaurants,” McDonald’s said in a statement sent to Nation’s Restaurant News. “We’re monitoring the impact of the Delta variant closely and recently convened together with our franchisees to underscore existing safety protocols, reinforce our people first approach and provide updates on the rise in cases in the country. […] Should we see further changes in customer behavior, we are well positioned to adapt while maintaining high standards for safety.”

McDonald’s first closed its company-owned dining rooms in mid-March 2020 at the start of the pandemic and later that month announced the complete closure of 50 of its restaurants. During the Q2 earnings call this year, CEO Chris Kempczinski said that the goal was to reopen all of the McDonald’s dining rooms by Labor Day 2021, barring any COVID-19 case surges. That plan will likely be revisited given the rise in hospitalizations due to the delta variant, but that does not mean McDonald’s dining rooms will all re-close on Labor Day.   

“As much as we want to be done with COVID, we must accept that COVID isn’t done with us,” Joe Erlinger said during the town hall meeting with franchisees. The Delta variant is biting deeply into the country’s progress. […] Even as fatigue re-emerges, as leaders, we must lean in. This means we cannot lose the discipline we had over the past 18 months […] We must operate our business from the same mindset we had during the peak. Our judicious focus on actions, checking in with our people, being proactive, and highlighting safety remain critical.”

Nation’s Restaurant News reached out to McDonald’s on how their safety guidelines have specifically changed because of the delta variant and did not receive a response in time for publication.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi





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