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McDonald's closes dining areas at company-owned restaurants

The majority of their franchise locations are likely to follow suit, McDonald's representatives said in a release.

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/ Source: NBC News
By Tim Stelloh and Samantha Kubota

McDonald’s said Monday that it is closing seating areas and playgrounds in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement, the company said the closures will go into effect Monday night. Drive through and take-out orders will still be available. Self-service kiosk areas will also be closed, the company said.

The shutdown applies to McDonald’s USA-owned restaurants, the statement said.

McDonald’s owns about 5% of its roughly 14,000 U.S. restaurants, CNBC reports.

Company representatives said the majority of their franchise locations are likely to follow suit.

"Franchisees are strongly encouraged to adopt similar operations procedures while keeping the needs of their people and communities at the center of their decisions," the statement said. "This guidance is supported by franchisee leadership and is expected to be adopted by the majority of franchisees."

In a post on Facebook, the company said they planned to stay open to help feed their communities.

"The health and safety of our community is top priority," the post said, in part. "We also recognize our role in helping feed families across America."

That sentiment was echoed by the national coronavirus task force at a press conference on Tuesday morning as they discussed the struggling restaurant business.

"These companies feed a big part of America," Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said. "And I suspect they're going to feed an even bigger part of America."

Mnuchin also suggested using the fast food companies' phone apps that allow customers to order in advance and pick up food "with social distancing."

The decision comes as many other national restaurant chains make similar adjustments. Starbucks, Chick-fil-A and Shake Shake have all made major modifications to their in-store service to reduce the risk of spreading disease.

Across the United States, many states and city officials have also placed restrictions on restaurants and bars.