McDonald’s, others are considering closing indoor seating amid U.S. delta surge

A sign can be seen at a McDonald’s restaurant in Queens, New York, United States on March 17, 2020. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly

NEW YORK, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Some U.S. fast food restaurants are closing indoor seating areas or restricting hours due to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, according to franchisees.

McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) temporarily closed indoor restaurants in almost all US locations in early 2020, but reopened 70% of the time by last month. The global burger chain said on July 28 that it should be open almost 100% by Labor Day – subject to a COVID-19 resurgence.

But last week, McDonald’s instructed its franchisees what steps they should take to close their dining rooms again in areas where the Delta variant is spreading rapidly, according to internal company materials seen by Reuters.

“We have a much deeper sense of what measures make a difference to the safety of our restaurant teams and our crew,” said McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger, according to the materials, during a meeting on Wednesday.

On Wednesday’s conference call, McDonald’s executives recommended franchisees to consider closing indoor seating in counties where COVID cases exceed 250 per 100,000 people on a three-week moving average.

The materials did not specify how many locations indoor seating has been closed or may soon be closed.

A McDonald’s franchisee who operates multiple locations told Reuters that it had to block indoor seating in several restaurants.

However, the expected closings are less than the number that closed in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic first hit the United States.

“We are closely monitoring the impact of the Delta variant and recently met with our franchisees to reinforce existing security protocols, strengthen our approach to employees, and keep abreast of the rise in cases across the country,” said McDonald’s Corp. Friday.

Top U.S. health officials said Friday that U.S. cases of the coronavirus continue to rise amid the rapidly spreading Delta variant. The vaccination rates were also higher, it said.

Deaths and cases increased 11% across the country in the past seven days, and Read more …

Drive-thru, carry-out and delivery helped drive fast food sales up this year despite closed dining rooms. But franchisees told Reuters that sales continued to rise when indoor seating reopened.

PMTD restaurants had to cut hours at some of the nearly 40 KFC and Taco Bell (YUM.N) restaurants in Alabama and Georgia because they were understaffed when several employees contracted COVID-19, according to Bill Byrd, president of PMTD restaurants .

This particularly affects the Taco Bell locations, as closing at 8 p.m. instead of midnight or later means restaurants are losing customers late at night, which can account for 20% of the business, Byrd said.

Reporting by Hilary Russ in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Comments are closed.