Citing a rise in coronavirus cases across the United States, McDonald’s Corp. is halting the reopening of more dining rooms in the U.S.
“Keeping with our thoughtful approach to reopening, effective today, we are pausing all dine-in reopening plans for 21 days,” company leaders wrote in a letter viewed by Nation’s Restaurant News.
To date, the Chicago-based burger giant has reopened dining rooms in 2,200 restaurants, which is about 15% of the company’s nearly 14,000 units in the U.S.
Restaurants remain open for off-premise orders.
In the July 1 letter, signed by McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger and franchise leader Mark Salebra, the company said locations that have re-opened their dining rooms “should carefully review any new guidance” from state and local government officials that may require the rolling back of dine in due to COVID-19 escalations.
On Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered indoor operations to close at restaurants in 19 counties where coronavirus cases have spiked.
“Our resiliency will be tested again. COVID-19 cases are on the rise – with a 65 percent increase in infections over the last two weeks,” the letter states.
The leaders told operators that the company has benefited from a “long term mindset” when it comes to protecting customers and employees during the coronavirus pandemic.
With cases spiking, the company is playing the long game, again.
“Given the rise in COVID-19 cases, we must act with the same mindset and discipline we employed throughout the crisis,” according to the letter.
The setback comes as McDonald’s leaders began positioning restaurants for the next phase of the pandemic. That included reopening dining rooms, rebooting breakfast and bringing back menu items cut from the menu during the first few months of the pandemic.
“For us, it’s now about accelerating the recovery,” CEO Chris Kempczinski said in June during a conference call organized by Evercore ISI Virtual Consumer & Retail Summit.
McDonald’s same-store sales in the U.S. were down 12% for the partial second quarter, which covers April and May. Leaders said the breakfast daypart was responsible for “more than half of the comp” decline. Lunch and dinner have been relatively flat during the pandemic, he added.
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