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McDonald’s Will Reopen 15 Restaurants Despite Worker Safety Concerns

Perspex screens, thermometers for staff, and a limited menu

A McDonald’s worker behind perspex in the Netherlands
McDonald’s has been conducting trials with screening in the Netherlands
Remko de Waal/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

McDonald’s will reopen 15 as yet unidentified restaurants in the U.K. on 13 May, according to McDonald’s U.K. and Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy. The plan comes days after Pomroy announced exploratory “reopening trials” for the burger juggernaut’s 1300 restaurants, 1100 of which are franchises.

Those trials have led to a suite of social distancing measures, including perspex screens — as seen at reopened branches of Pret a Manger — and temperature checks for staff on arrival. Menus will be limited, with breakfast initially not available.

Pomroy makes pains to emphasise that the decisions made on measures and on which restaurants to reopen are “at the right pace with the wellbeing of our employees, suppliers and customers front of mind,” but the company is yet to respond to concerns from the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) over both wages under the coronavirus furlough scheme and the plans for reopening. The union submitted ten questions to Pomroy upon receipt of the plans to trial reopening strategies, covering sick pay and furlough assurances:

The chain, which employs over 120,000 people in the U.K., is following KFC, Burger King, Pret a Manger and bakery Greggs in announcing reopening proposals, though Greggs recently rowed back after concerns on overcrowding. McDonald’s is likely to have to take similar caution. The reopening will also put pressure on the U.K.’s meat industry supply chain, which has seen scores of coronavirus deaths, outbreaks, and reports of the infringement of workers’ rights in the USA.

The restaurants chosen will be announced next week. More soon.

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