Covid-19: McDonald's UK now takeaway, drive-thru, and delivery only

McDonald’s UK and Irish restaurants have closed all seating areas from 5am today (18 March), temporarily switching its services to takeaway, drive-thru, and delivery only.

Customers can now either order for takeout, online at Just Eat or Uber Eats, or at drive-thru kiosks, and McDonald’s said it will remain open “as long as it is safe to do so”.

Today’s move comes in response to the spread of the coronavirus, which as of 17 March had killed 69 people in the UK and two people in the Republic of Ireland.

McDonald’s said it took the decision to “ensure the wellbeing of our employees and customers”. It comes after it announced earlier this week that it had ramped up its hygiene and cleanliness standards to try and minimise the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Measures included sanitising tables, high chairs, self-order screens, tablets and table service locators more frequently throughout the day, as well as cleaning contact points such as door handles, card readers, taps and hand rails even more regularly with disinfectants. These are actions that restaurants around the country have been taking, in response to an unprecedented environment.

It is a fast-moving situation for all businesses, and several retailers, and restaurant chains around the world have decided to temporarily shutter their stores entirely in the midst of what is the biggest global health emergency in a generation.

The decision to close sit-down McDonald’s restaurant areas comes after official government and medical advice for consumers to limit social interactions to reduce the spread of the escalating pandemic.

Many restaurants, hospitality outlets, and leisure providers are concerned they will collapse as a result of the situation, and were angered by prime minister Boris Johnson, on Monday, singling out pubs, restaurants, clubs, and theatres as places to avoid to help the UK limit the virus.

In response, UK chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a £350 billion aid package for businesses, yesterday, including removing business rates for 12 months, to support those affected by the coronavirus outbreak. He said the government will do "whatever it takes" to support businesses in their time of need, but the future for the retail and hospitality sectors, wider commerce, and how the pandemic will change the economy in the long run all remains patently unclear.