McDonald’s is closing all of its restaurants in the UK and Ireland on March 23. The fast-food chain announced on Sunday that it had “taken the difficult decision” to close more than 1,270 locations across the UK and Ireland, which employ more than 135,000 workers, as the coronavirus infection continues to spread. The chain had previously closed the seating areas of its restaurants and moved to takeout, delivery, and drive-thru options only.
“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 UK and Ireland CEO Paul Pomroy said in a statement to the press on March 22.
Pomroy said that McDonald’s will be serving free food and drink to emergency services workers and frontline health workers ahead of the closure. It will also be working with local communities to distribute the food from its restaurants to people in need, he said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week that all pubs, restaurants, and cafes must close from Friday onward – these businesses are limited to offering customers takeout food and drink only. While McDonald’s in the US has closed its dining areas, it is still operating its takeaway, delivery, and drive-thru services, and along with other major fast-food chains in the US, it has been fighting to stay open.