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McDonald's-KIOSKS-coronoavirus-closures.jpg Nancy Luna
McDonald's shuttering use of kiosks to stop the spread of coronavirus.

McDonald’s closing dining rooms, shifting to drive-thru, carryout, delivery at company stores

The Chicago-based quick-service chain pivots after Trump tells consumers to avoid restaurants

McDonald’s became one of the last major quick-service companies to make the call to close its dining rooms to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The chain announced late Monday that “company-owned restaurants will close seating areas, including the use of self-service beverage bars and kiosks, and shift our focus to serving customers through drive-thru, walk-in take-out and McDelivery.”

McDonald’s, the third largest U.S. restaurant chain by units, has nearly 700 company-operated stores. The rest, more than 13,150 restaurants, are owned by franchisees.

The chain said it expects most operators to follow suit and close dining rooms: "Our independent franchisees continue to focus on the needs of their local communities and make safe and caring decisions. Franchisees are strongly encouraged to adopt similar operations procedures while keeping the needs of their people and communities at the center of their decisions. This guidance is supported by franchisee leadership and is expected to be adopted by the majority of franchisees." 

The announcement came shortly after President Trump released guidelines for slowing the spread of novel coronavirus. While the federal government did not recommend shutting down restaurants, Trump and health authorities suggested limiting group gatherings to 10 or fewer people and avoid visiting restaurants and bars.

The guidelines come after state and local officials began urging restaurants to shut down or move to off-premise only operations to protect consumers and employees. That spurred dozens of quick-service and fast-casual chains across the U.S. to announce plans to offer carryout, drive-thru and delivery-only services.

Starbucks was the first national chain to announce plans Sunday to only serve customers through mobile order/pick and delivery. Other brands switching to off-premise only operations include Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, Jack in the Box, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Arby's, Sonic, Chick-fil-A, Shake Shack and Noodles & Company.

Up until the Trump speech, McDonald’s declined to say if they’d pivot to an off-premise model like other chains. Like Starbucks, customers can still walk into stores for takeout. 

“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 company said in a statement.

The company said all PlayPlaces at U.S. locations will close effective Monday.

For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven

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