McDonald’s will reopen 924 drive-thru restaurants in the U.K. next week. Following a reopening trial of 39 restaurants last week, the international fast food giant is satisfied that it can now open its entire drive-thru portfolio between 2 – 4 June, it announced yesterday. “We are delighted to be returning to the communities across the U.K.,” it said.
The chain which shut down all its restaurants in late March has been under sustained pressure from the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) to ensure the safety of its 120,000 employees when it does reopen. Yesterday, McDonald’s confirmed it will introduce the suite of safety measures it announced during the trial at all sites. Those include perspex screens installed at the drive-through windows and inside the restaurant’s kitchens. Physical distancing is being encouraged inside the restaurants, with floor markings introduced at each branch. Members of staff will also have their temperature checked with a contactless thermometer when they arrive for a shift. The restaurants will also continue to offer a limited menu and will not yet reintroduce breakfast.
In order to moderate demand and reduce the amount of static contact time between staff and customer, each vehicle’s spending is capped at £25, while contactless payment methods are being encouraged where possible. Government guidance prohibits any restaurant or “crowded venue” from opening before 4 July, at which point the situation will be reviewed.
This morning, the BFAWU has continued to encourage those employees going back to work to check that their working conditions do comply with the company’s safety measures. It has shared a “safety quiz” developed by the union affiliate McStrike, which asks employees whether they are worried about going to work, and poses questions to them to better understand whether they are safe to return. “Take our quiz and see how safe your workplace is. If you’re not safe at work we will be in touch to tell you what you can do,” it says.
While McDonald’s anticipates significant demand and excitement for the chain’s reopening has grown in the last week, there is concern among unions that the government’s reopening strategy, which allows businesses with the ability to deliver food or trade outdoors sooner than those that can’t, has resulted in large chains accelerating their own reopening plans. To do that, those companies necessarily rely on workers who are often on low incomes or zero-hours contracts: workers whose minimal protections mean they can ill afford to remain off work.