McDonald’s is putting the brakes on the planned reopening of the restaurants throughout its system, various news media outlets are reporting. The fast-food giant will pause the reopenings for 21 days, in the wake of a spike in coronavirus cases throughout the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, quoted a letter co-written by the company’s U.S. president, Joe Erlinger, and the head of the National Franchisee Leadership Alliance, Mark Salebra, as saying: “(O)ur resiliency will be tested again. COVID-19 cases are on the rise.”
In May, McDonald’s began to offer dine-in services within its restaurants, albeit with some restrictions. Since then, roughly 2,200 of those outlets, about 15% of the company’s total restaurant count, have permitted customers to eat in. Takeout service and drive-in facilities have been available throughout the current pandemic.
Restaurants that have opened their dining areas will be permitted to keep them open as long as their local and state health authorities allow this. Increasingly, however, more of these governments are reversing decisions to begin reopening their economies. In their letter, Erlinger and Salebra wrote that all restaurant operators should continue to be diligent about the numerous sanitary and safety measures the company has instituted to keep employees and customers healthy. These include the wearing of masks and “going above and beyond” to clean and sanitize restaurant interiors.
McDonald’s has not yet issued a formal public statement on the pause in its reopenings.
The company’s stock was up by 0.6% in early morning trading on Thursday, somewhat lagging behind the gains of the wider equities market and other discretionary consumer goods names.