McDonald’s announced on Monday that it close seating areas in all of its company-owned restaurants in the United States in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus, coming after President Donald Trump urged Americans to avoid crowds of 10 or more people.
The firm said that it will use its drive-through, take-out, and delivery services in lieu of in-house dining.
The changes currently apply to its company-owned restaurants, but franchises may soon follow suit.
“To align with increasing regulations throughout the country, effective at the close of business today, McDonald’s USA 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 USA said in a statement.
The firm said it is encouraging franchisees to close down seating areas. Customers should contact their local McDonald’s before planning to eat.
“Franchisees are strongly encouraged to adopt similar operations procedures while keeping the needs of their people and communities at the center of their decisions,” McDonald’s USA said. “This guidance is supported by franchisee leadership and is expected to be adopted by the majority of franchisees.”
The closures reflect the changes that have resonated throughout almost all aspects of everyday life as schools have closed, restaurants in many states have shuttered, and Americans have been told to avoid large crowds in an attempt to curb the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
States such as Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, and more are requiring restaurants to shutter or close dining areas.
Taco Bell, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Jack in the Box, and a number of other fast-food restaurants have already closed dining areas.
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 4,400 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States, and around 70 people have died.
Earlier on Monday, Trump said that Americans should avoid congregating in groups of 10 people or more. It’s not an order but guidance, he said.
“If everyone makes this change, or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” Trump told reporters in the White House briefing room on Monday. “We’re going to have a big celebration altogether.”
In underscoring the severity of the outbreak, Trump predicted that the sweeping new changes in society could last until July or August.
The White House’s new guidance also advises Americans to avoid drinking and eating at bars, restaurants, and other food establishments. Trump also recommends against most social visits, including visiting nursing and retirement homes.