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Coronavirus prompts McDonald's to close store seating, play areas

Thomas Barrabi

McDonald’s is scaling back operations at stores in North American because of the coronavirus outbreak, the company said Monday.

The fast-food chain will limit service at company-owned stores in the region to drive-thru service, walk-in take-out and deliveries. Seating areas, self-service kiosks and children’s play areas are closed until further notice.

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“We believe this temporary change is the right decision for our consumers, our communities, and our business and will continue to evaluate our operations as the situation evolves,” the company said in a statement.

McDonald’s franchisees in North America are “strongly encouraged” but not required to enact the same policies. The adjusted store policies take effect at the close of business on Monday.

“Franchisee leadership completely supports the decision to adhere to social distancing guidelines and ensure that large groups of customers are not gathered together inside our restaurants,” said Mark Salebra, chairman of the McDonald’s National Franchisee Leadership Alliance. “We are committed to our role in supporting the communities in which we do business and protecting the public’s health by shifting our operations to Drive-Thru, walk-in take-out and McDelivery.”

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The changes at McDonald’s stores came as government officials recommend that Americans practice “social distancing” in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Many U.S. companies have cut back on store hours, tweaked service policies or closed locations entirely due to the risks.

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A growing number of U.S. cities, including New York, have ordered bars and restaurants to temporarily close. Fast-food operator Chick-Fil-A and coffeehouse chain Starbucks has also temporarily closed seating at stores.

U.S. authorities have reported more than 4,200 individual cases of coronavirus so far. At least 78 in the United States people with the virus have died.

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