Having already limited its offering to takeaway only, McDonald’s will close 1,270 of its UK restaurants as of this evening (Monday 23rd March).
Founded in 1940, the fast food chain claimed it wanted to protect the wellbeing of staff and customers with its impending closure until it’s considered safe for the sites to reopen. Around 135,000 people are employed by McDonald’s in the UK, the majority of which are on zero-hour contracts. It’s said that employees will receive full pay for their scheduled hours until 5th April. After then, proceedings are currently unknown.
The news follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging restaurants and cafes to close last week, following the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Britain, with thousands of UK restaurants having temporarily closed their doors (plus many that have decided to close permanently).
In an official statement, Paul Pomroy, Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s UK & Ireland, said:
“I am incredibly grateful to our brilliant employees who have been working hard to continue to serve you safely in difficult circumstances.
“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.
“We will be working closely with community groups across the UK and Ireland to distribute food from our restaurants to those most in need, and ahead of closing tomorrow evening, will ensure frontline health workers and emergency services personnel do not have to pay for any food or drink in our restaurants on sight of their work pass.
“I want to thank every single one of our 135,000 employees. I am so proud of them all for adapting so quickly to a constantly evolving work environment, taking every step to keep our customers, couriers and teams safe and looking after each other so very well.
“We will continue to update you thorough our website, social media channels and email alerts in the coming weeks but in the meantime we thank you for your continued support and custom.
“Take care of one another in these unprecedented times, we look forward to seeing you again as soon as it is safe for us to reopen.”