McDonald's, Starbucks limit dine-in service in U.S. to slow coronavirus

 McDonalds, Starbucks limit dine-in service in U.S. to slow coronavirus

By Nivedita Balu

(Reuters) - McDonald's Corp and Starbucks Corp have decided to close dine-in areas at many U.S. stores and shifted to take-away and delivery services, even as major cities ordered restaurants and bars closed to stop spread of the coronavirus.

The world's largest burger chain said on Monday it would also shut self-service beverage bars and kiosks, as well as its kids area, or PlayPlaces, at the company-owned restaurants.

The company said that leadership of McDonald's franchisees, who own the vast majority of U.S. restaurants, backed the guidance and that a majority likely would adopt the plan.

Starbucks, the world's largest coffee chain, which owns almost all U.S. stores, said on Sunday it would also close outlets for at least two weeks in communities with high numbers of coronavirus cases, as well as malls and university campuses, and change to a "to go" model in the United States and Canada stores.

The unprecedented move comes as authorities in New York, Los Angeles and other global cities shut down bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas to combat the pandemic. San Francisco Bay Area counties asked all residents to stay home for all but essential trips.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday ordered restaurants, bars and cafes to sell food only on a take-out or delivery basis.

Pubs, fine dining and fast-casual restaurants have also shut temporarily and some have also scaled down their menus to offer delivery options at relatively low prices.

Burger chain Shake Shack Inc said on Monday it would temporarily shift to a take-out model in all its U.S. company-owned restaurants and withdrew its 2020 forecasts, citing "unprecedented market conditions."

Canada's coffee and breakfast chain Tim Hortons, owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc , will close dining-room seating in most locations from Tuesday to focus on take-out, drive-thru and delivery service.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed 60 people and infected over 3,600 in the United States. Globally, the virus has infected over 169,000 people and killed more than 6,500.

"The situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic and we will continue to review the facts and science and make the proactive decisions necessary," said Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks' U.S. company-operated and Canada businesses.

The company had warned of a second-quarter hit from the outbreak in China as same-store sales there halved.

Starbucks had earlier stopped accepting reusable cups and thermos flasks from customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa after announcing a similar policy in the United States.

Shares of McDonald's, Shake Shack and Starbucks closed down about 16%, while U.S.-listed shares of Restaurant Brands slumped 22% in broader market losses.

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Arun Koyyur)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date: Mar 17, 2020 06:05:48 IST



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