McDonald's Sign - © WTTV

COVID-19: McDonald’s Issues Detailed Re-Opening Rules

Are you skeptical about venturing out during the COVID-19 crisis, let alone going to a restaurant? While some US states are allowing restos to reopen for dine-in business provided they follow official rules for social distancing and hygiene, McDonald’s seen their rules and raised them…

McDonald's Social Distancing - © McDonald's 2020 - AFPJust one of the new realities at McDonald’s, as selected locations
prepare to cautiously reopen in the US and Canada…

McDonald’ restaurants in the US has issues a 59-page manual to all its outlets mandating strict, detailed operating procedures and hygiene rules that managers must follow if they want to re-open under reduced local pandemic lock down restrictions. An initial 30 Canadian locations are also reopening under McDonald’s new rules as a test.

More than 50 ‘process changes

The chain’s head office yesterday released a public statement outlining the new rules, designed to keep both customers and staff safe from COVID-19 transmission:

“To date, we have implemented nearly 50 process changes in restaurants and increased training for restaurant crew. Now, as cities and states begin to ease restrictions, we are moving thoughtfully and judiciously with guidance provided by local authorities,” the open letter states. “As we come together again, we are prioritizing staying safely apart. We are building on the processes already in place such as wellness checks, social distancing floor stickers, protective barriers at order points, masks and gloves for employees with the addition of new procedures, and training for the reopening of dining rooms. These will serve as a set of nationwide standards for operations across all 14,000 U.S. McDonald’s locations. All restaurants must implement these standards, in addition to state and local laws, before reopening a dining room.”

Among the high points…

New procedures and guidelines for in-restaurant dining at McDonald’s include:

  • Signage stating the designated seating capacity of each location to comply with social distancing rules,
  • Closing some seating and tables to accommodate social distancing,
  • Delivery of orders to your table, helping customers avoid standing in lineups.
  • Plexiglas barriers between customers and counter staff,
  • More frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces, including tables. Rest rooms to be cleaned every 30 minutes,
  • Continued care efforts, including crew members wearing masks or face coverings, and gloves,
  • Making masks available for customers in municipalities where they are required,
  • Keeping Play Places closed, and
  • Modifying dine-in beverage procedures to minimize contact. ‘Self-Serve’ Soda fountains will be operated by staff to avoid customers touching the cups, lids, straws, buttons and other surfaces.

My take

It’s already hard enough to get staff at some locations to clean the restrooms on a regular schedule, let alone an intensive one as proposed in the McDonald’s re-opening rules. And I think that rule, along with the one that states all tables will be cleaned and disinfected between customers, will be the first to fall victim to human nature.

At the very least, McDonald’s operators will have to hire additional staff to do those jobs, over and above the usual counter and kitchen crews. Then there’s the cost of the masks and gloves, and cleaners and disinfectants. Even if the customers come back in the usual, non crisis numbers, operators may not be able to make enough money to break even, let alone pocket a profit – but they’ll at least be providing jobs again.

On the up side, kudos to McD’s for again leading the way, getting out front of the re-opening issues and preparing an overall health and safety plan that could stand as a model for the other big chains to emulate. Folks have traditionally knocked McDonald’s core menu items – Burgers and Fries – as high in Calories, Fat and Salt; not the healthiest stuff out there. But when it comes to corporate responsibility, they’re model citizens.

~ Maggie J.

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