The increase in the number of Covid-19 delta variant cases is a cause of concern for various industries. But restaurants and fast food giants have already started considering closing indoor seating areas or at least limiting hours of operation. According to reports, McDonald’s is already weighing on these options as the delta variant continues to surge. The fast-food company has reportedly instructed franchisees in areas where cases of delta variant are high to take steps to close indoor dining. The company said that they are closely monitoring the situation and impact of the delta variant. It also convened a meeting with franchisees to discuss safety protocols that are already in place. McDonald’s also asked franchisees to strictly follow its people-first approach and provide updates on the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country. Earlier in March 2020, the fast-food company had closed indoor dining and play areas due to the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, Americans were asked to remain closed in order to curb the outbreak of the highly infectious disease. McDonald’s started reopening for indoor dining in a phased manner around May this year. Last month, the company was operating at around 70 percent of its capacity. The company had recently said that it was on track to work with 100 percent capacity by Labor Day – provided there is no sudden surge in the number of Covid-19 cases.
McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger said that the safety of our restaurants’ teams and crew is also important and we know what actions need to be taken to ensure that. In the recent meeting, executives of the company said that franchisees should consider closing restaurants in counties where the number of Covid-19 cases exceeds 250 per 100,000 people. “Though we want to get rid of the coronavirus as soon as possible, we must accept that Covid is not over yet. The delta variant has started to affect the country’s progress. There has been a steady increase in the number of new cases, which is a cause of worry for all of us. For the first time since February, the United States is recording on an average more than 130,000 cases a day,” Erlinger said. However, there is no confirmation about how many locations can close indoor seating in the coming days. But there are some who have already taken the step as a precautionary measure. “I have to bar indoor seating at several locations,” McDonald’s franchisee was quoted as saying by a news agency. Despite this, the expected closer this is likely to be fewer than what was witnessed a year ago when the pandemic broke out.
Fast food companies managed to survive because of the drive-thru, carry-out, and delivery. Sales went up further after restaurants allowed indoor seating. These restaurants were hopeful of getting back to pre-pandemic sales by the end of this year. However, the surge in cases of new variants has once again created an environment of uncertainty for these businesses. Meanwhile, health officials of the United States said that cases of coronavirus infection are on the rise. The only solace is that rate of vaccination has picked pace of late. There have been several initiatives, at both private as well as government levels, to encourage people for getting vaccinated against Covid-19. But the cases of infections have started to increase once again. There has been a 3 percent increase in the number of new cases across the nation in over the past seven days. Similarly, the increase in deaths has been around 11 percent during the same period. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitalization to has gone up by 6 percent over the past week to an eight-month high.