McDonald’s pauses UK walk-in takeaways to review Covid strategy

McDonald’s is temporarily suspending its walk-in takeaway service during the new coronavirus lockdown in England.

The fast food chain said its dine-in and walk-in takeaway offering would not be available while it reassessed its procedures with an independent health and safety body.

However the firm, which has about 1,300 outlets in the UK, said its restaurants would remain open for its drive-through and delivery services.

Paul Pomroy, McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive, said: “This is a temporary change in our operations to allow us to test and validate any additional measures that may further enhance the safety of our takeaway service.”

McDonald’s said it would update customers with any changes to its service via its website and app.

Under the January restrictions, which constitute England’s toughest lockdown since March, all non-essential retail and hospitality must close or remain closed.

Restaurants, pubs and other hospitality venues are not allowed to offer dining on the premises, but can continue to offer deliveries or takeaways.

However, they are no longer allowed to serve takeaway or click and collect alcohol, amid concerns about people congregating around pubs and bars.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also in lockdown.

Fast food chains including McDonald’s, Burger King and Nando’s initially closed during the first nationwide lockdown last spring, before introducing new safety measures and working practices, which allowed them to gradually reopen restaurants for takeaway, delivery and drive-through services.

A spokesman for Burger King said takeaway was still available in some branches but “restaurants operating drive-through, takeaway, click and collect and delivery via Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat, will continue to operate these services, in line with guidance issued”.

Pret a Manger said it would keep some of its branches open for takeaway and delivery services, although some remain closed because of reduced footfall.

A spokesperson for the coffee and sandwich chain said keeping 230 of its 389 UK branches open allowed it to “provide convenient access to freshly prepared food to communities and donate more meals to those who need it, with our charity partners”.

The firm said it had reviewed its safety processes and believed it had “strong protocols in place to ensure our shops can safely remain open for both takeaway and delivery”.

Pret shifted its business to focus on delivery in 2020 and said it had seen a significant increase in the use of delivery by customers since.

Deliveroo said in response to the new restrictions it had launched mandatory contact-free delivery to customers, as well as mandatory contact-free pickup from restaurants.

However, takeaway deliveries are permitted only until 11pm under the government restrictions.

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