America's top fast-food chain is preparing to reopen dining rooms across the country, but like many other restaurants, it will have to follow a new set of protocols while operating.
On Thursday, McDonald's president Joe Erlinger released a statement outlining new details on the additional measures the chain will take to help ensure the safety of its customers and employees once they reopen.
"With adherence to these new procedures and guidance, as well as continuing to rely on guidance from CDC, state and local authorities, McDonald’s, in partnership with Owner/Operators will make reopening decisions that are right for the local communities and help ensure restaurant crew and customers feel safe and welcome," said Erlinger.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Erlinger said he has been meeting with his executive team several times a day to "evaluate and adjust our plans while also adopting best practices from our franchisees and global markets." Throughout the pandemic, the chain has implemented nearly 50 "process changes."
New changes will be made in accordance with local regulations and guidelines, but key tenets include an emphasis on social distancing, hand sanitation and new cleaning standards. Erlinger noted that "all restaurants must implement these standards, in addition to state and local laws, before reopening a dining room."
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Here's what customers can expect to see once their local McDonald's reopens.
1. Some areas will still remain closed to customers
Like most restaurants around the country, McDonald's dining rooms will be operating at limited capacities. To encourage social distancing, diners will be seated further apart within designated dining areas.
2. High-touch surfaces will be frequently cleaned
Surfaces like tables and counters will be more frequently cleaned and disinfected to prevent coronavirus spreading between separate parties.
3. Personal protective equipment will be available
Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided for crew members and other employees, according to the statement. For employees who regularly interact with customers, that will mean gloves and masks or face coverings. In some locations, masks will also be made available for customers to use.
4. Kids won't be able to climb all over the place
Restaurants that have PlayPlaces won't be opening up the colorful structures any time soon. The statement noted that the playground areas will remain closed and does not provide a timeline for when they might reopen.
5. Contact will be minimized
The press release specifically noted that "dine-in beverage procedures" will be modified to minimize contact between employees and customers, but specifics were not provided.
6. There will be barriers between customers and employees
The press release noted that "protective barriers" will be placed in different areas, like at the cashier stands, in an effort to make sure the virus doesn't spread between customers and employees.
7. Self-service beverage stations will remain closed
Since the onset of the pandemic, McDonald's customers have not been permitted to serve themselves drinks from any soda dispensers. According to the release, beverage bars will remain closed or, in some cases, may be manned by a staff member.
8. Floor stickers will provide additional instructions
Floor stickers will be used to display a clear, socially-distanced route customers may follow through the restaurant. Ideally, this will lead to less contact between people as they move about.
McDonald's first closed the dining rooms in all of its company-owned restaurants in mid-March. Most locations have continued to operate drive-thrus and takeout counters. It has since cut several menu items, including select chicken sandwiches and its all-day breakfast offering, to simplify operations for staff members who continued to work during the pandemic.