McDonald’s will close all 1,270 of its UK restaurants by 7pm this evening, as fears over the coronavirus outbreak escalate.
The UK’s largest and longest-established fast food chain had previously closed its seating areas but had continued to offer takeaway and drive-through services.
However, it will now shut down completely after admitting that trying to operate a takeaway-only business had become impossible in light of government guidelines on social distancing.
UK CEO Paul Pomroy said late last night: “Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and Drive Thru restaurants is increasingly difficult and therefore we have taken the decision to close every restaurant in the UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday 23rd March.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and know that our restaurants have been playing an important role in the community providing hundreds of thousands of free drinks to frontline health and social workers and emergency services personnel.
“But I have been clear throughout this that we would only continue to operate whilst it was safe for our people and together with our franchisees, we feel now is the time to make this decision to temporarily close.”
McDonald’s will work closely with community groups across the UK and Ireland to distribute food from its restaurants to those most in need, and ahead of closing this evening will ensure frontline health workers and emergency services personnel do not have to pay for any food or drink in its restaurants on sight of their work pass.
McDonald’s employs more than 135,000 people in the UK and serves four million customers every day.
Mr Pomroy said the restaurants said normal service would resume “as soon as it is safe for us to reopen”.