McDonald’s is closing all of its stores in the United Kingdom and Ireland as a bid to limit social interaction to put an end to the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has already infected more than 350,000 people worldwide.
Because “increasingly difficult” to maintain safe social distancing while operating “busy takeaway and drive-thru restaurants,” Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald’s U.K. and Ireland, said in a statement Sunday that the fast-food giant is closing all of its U.K. stores starting Monday.
The move comes after the U.K. government has advised against all non-essential social contact and ordered all pubs, bars, and restaurants to close their dining rooms and only serve takeaway orders.
McDonald’s employs more than 135,000 people across more than 1,350 restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland. A spokesperson said that the employees will still be receiving their salary for their scheduled hours until April 5.
“We will work quickly to determine how best to further support our employees and to ensure that those who are eligible can fully benefit from the support packages announced by both U.K. and Irish governments,” the spokesperson said.
Similarly, the fast-food chain also announced last week that it would be closing the dining rooms in all of the company-owned stores across the United States as the coronavirus outbreak continue to threaten public health across the globe. McDonald’s management also asked all of their franchisees to follow the same measure as a part of the social distancing strategy in fighting against the fatal virus.
“Franchisee leadership completely supports the decision to adhere to social distancing guidelines and ensure that large groups of customers are not gathered together inside our restaurants,” Mark Salebra, chair of McDonald’s National Franchisee Leadership Alliance, said in a statement.