McDonald’s restaurants are closing their seating areas because of coronavirus

McDonald’s is trying to slow the spread of coronavirus by limiting contact between staff and customers.

The move will see all 1,249 of the chain’s restaurants close their seating areas from today (18 Mar), with customers only allowed to takeaway food, or use the ‘Drive Thru’ facilities.

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The fast food giant said that “recent updates from the UK and Irish governments” had prompted the change in policy.

Customers will still be able to have McDonald’s food delivered by Uber Eats and Just Eat. It is not clear whether the company will continue the use of the touch screen ordering menus in its restaurants.

‘Unprecedented times’

In a statement posted to its official Twitter page, McDonald’s UK said, “In light of recent updates from UK and Irish governments, we are temporarily changing our operations to ensure the wellbeing of our employees and customers.

“From 5am on Wednesday 18th March, all restaurants will close seating areas and temporarily move to being takeaway, Drive Thru and McDelivery only.

“With immediate effect, all of our Drive Thru and McDelivery orders via Uber Eats and Just Eat, will be contact-free, with no physical contact between customers, employees and couriers wherever possible.

“In these unprecedented times, our restaurants will continue to remain open for as long as it is safe to do so. Thank you once again for all your support in keeping one another safe.”

McDonald’s Monopoly postponed

The company also announced that it was delaying the start of its popular Monopoly promotion until later this year.

The competition, which allowed customers to win prizes from free food items to £100,000 in cash, was scheduled to start later this month, until late April.

In another statement on Twitter, the company said, “We have made the difficult decision to delay the Monopoly promotion until later in the year until we can be confident that you can win, claim and redeem the prizes available.”

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government adviceAs of the 12 March the Government has moved into the "delay" phase of its plan to tackle coronavirus. Advice is that anyone with a continuous cough or high temperature should self-isolate for seven days. People over 70 have been advised not to go on cruises and schools advised to cancel trips abroad, though schools remain open.

Should I avoid public places?Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS