The fast food chain reopened 33 of its drive-throughs in south-east England last week as a trial and it is now expanding the programme to every drive-through branch, alongside an expansion of its delivery service at sites that do not serve drivers.
McDonald’s said all remaining branches would reopen between Tuesday and Thursday next week. It will announce which Golden Arches branch is reopening only on the morning that service is resuming in order to manage demand.
The burger chain is trying to avoid a repeat of its experience in France and Switzerland, where advance notice of drive-through reopenings led to queues of up to seven hours in some locations.
The company said it was working with local authorities and police in the run-up to the reopenings in the UK and Ireland after almost two months’ closure.
McDonald’s, along with its competitors Burger King, KFC and Nando’s, have been trialling phased reopenings of their restaurants, with increased safety measures.
Staff at McDonald’s are protected from customers by perspex screens installed at the drive-through windows, and from their colleagues inside the restaurant’s kitchens. The company has introduced physical distancing inside the restaurants, including floor markings in each branch.
Each worker has their temperature checked with a contactless thermometer when they arrive for a shift, and is given protective equipment including masks and gloves.
Once reopened, the McDonald’s branches will continue to offer a limited menu, which does not include breakfast, owing to smaller teams working in each location.
Customers are asked to use contactless payment methods if possible and spending is capped at £25 per vehicle.
The company expects high demand and has asked customers to give “patience and support” to its workers as they continue to adjust to new ways of working.
A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “Over the last fortnight, our employees, franchisees and suppliers have worked tirelessly to implement new procedures to enable safe working so that we can now help all parts of the UK and Ireland to enjoy the return of the Big Mac.”
Restaurants and pubs in the UK were closed from 24 March under the government lockdown but were allowed to prepare food for collection or delivery, with many providing free meals to NHS staff and other key workers.
As restrictions are eased, several chains have been gradually reopening locations.Burger King is reopening about 20 restaurants a week until its entire UK chain is open, and aims to have at least one open in every city by the end of May.
Nando’s has reopened 94 of its restaurants for delivery and click and collect across the UK and Ireland, and is also operating a reduced menu.
The company says PPE is available for staff to wear, and designated waiting areas have been set up for delivery drivers and customers collecting orders.