The continuous spread of the deadly coronavirus in china has forced United States based global fast food chain McDonalds to close restaurants in five Chinese cities while also implementing new health protocols at its outlets in the region.
Stores of the company were closed down in the cities of Wuhan, Ezhou, Huanggang, Qianjiang and Xiantao on Friday. These are the cities that have been the worst impacted by the virus and also affected by the travel ban imposed by the Chinese government. This was said by the spokesperson of McDonalds Barry Sum in an email to the media.
Government travel restrictions have impacted at least 10 cities in central Hubei province of China, including Wuhan, the city from where the coronavirus is believed to have originated.
“McDonald’s restaurant operation in Hubei province runs normally in cities where public transportation is available,” Sum said. “Staff and customers’ safety is our first priority and we have comprehensive, precautious measures being implemented to all restaurant operations and office staff.” It’s not clear when the affected restaurants will reopen.
The total death toll because of the virus has crossed 26 and more than 900 people have been confirmed to have been affected by it globally. Japan, Thailand and the United States are among the countries where the respiratory infection has spread. In an attempt to prevent more illness and death, some or all major Lunar New Year celebrations have been cancelled by major Chinese cities including Beijing.
McDonald’s (MCD) “will maintain close communication with local health and other relevant authorities, actively implement any guidance by medical authorities for containment of the virus, and continue to work together to fight this epidemic,” Sum said.
In order to monitor employees for signs of the infection, strict new standards are being implemented by McDonalds in China in addition to suspending its services.
“All restaurants are required to commence a system of measuring body temperatures of all crews upon arrival at work,” the company said on its Chinese social media platforms. It also added that it has “established a reporting, recording and observation mechanism for employees traveling to and from Wuhan during the New Year Spring Festival.”
The company is sending home any employee with fevers or cold symptoms. Wearing masks is being made mandatory for all employees as well as instructed to more frequent washing of hands and the use disinfectants.
For the customers, the company is also placing more hand sanitizers in stores while increasing the number of times the stores are cleaned and urging suppliers to take safety precautions.
McDonalds has invested in China for its growth. China was pointed out as one of the best-performing international markets by the company’s former CEO Steve Easterbrook while on an October call discussing the company’s third-quarter earnings.
Shanghai Disney Resort has also shut down because of the virus in the very busy holiday season in China in response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak.”
(Adapted from CNN.com)