McDonald’s said Sunday in a corporate statement that, by the end of Monday, all 1,270 of its U.K. restaurants would close due to COVID-19 concerns.
The company made the announcement after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all restaurants and cafes to shutter, not including takeout spots.
McDonald’s had to that point still offered takeout and drive thru, but had closed dining areas, like it has in the U.S. CEO Chris Kempczinski told CNBC Friday the fast-food chain fully temporarily closed 50 of its 14,000 or so U.S. restaurants.
"We have taken the difficult decision to close all McDonald's restaurants in the UK and Ireland by 7 pm on Monday, March 23 at the latest. This is not a decision we are taking lightly, but one made with the well-being and safety of our employees in mind as well as in the best interests of our customers," the company said.
McDonald’s added people directly employed by the company would receive full pay for their scheduled hours until April 5, according to the BBC. It hoped the government’s financial aid package would arrive by then, which has promised to pay staff 80 percent of their wages. The company employs about 135,000 people in the U.S.
"Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and drive-thru restaurants is increasingly difficult," U.K. head Paul Pomroy told the BBC. “I have been clear throughout this that we would only continue to operate whilst it was safe for our people and together with our franchisees, we feel now is the time to make this decision."
BBC also said McDonald’s franchisees were expected to follow suit. Eighty-six percent were franchised as of March 2019.
McDonald’s international operated segment represents more than 50 percent of total revenues (comp sales were up 6.1 percent in 2019, with comparable guest counts upping 3.5 percent, year-over-year). France and U.K. drove the segments Q4 growth, the company said after its annual review. Every market produced positive comp sales and traffic was green in nearly all markets. The U.K. specifically reported its 55 consecutive quarter of comp sales growth.
CNN Business said Monday Nando’s was doing the same. The chain said in a statement that eat in, takeaway and delivery for customers "will all stop until further notice."