McDonald’s Readies for COVID-19 Surge

Internal memo signals a renewed focus on social distancing, sanitation, contactless payments.

November 16, 2020

CHICAGO—With an eye on rising cases of COVID-19 nationwide and keeping its teams and customers safe, McDonald’s is undertaking what it dubs “Safety Reaffirmation Visits” to make sure its franchise restaurants are abiding by safety measures, Business Insider reports.

“The latest numbers are staggering—with the average number of new infections having reached as high as 140,000 in a single day,” according to an internal company memo Business Insider viewed. “It is apparent we are entering what many predicted would be the most difficult period of the pandemic.”

McDonald’s, which serves nearly 25 million customers per day in the U.S., plans to inspect one restaurant per every franchise organization in the U.S., and each franchisee will be responsible for inspecting all of the locations in its operational portfolio. McDonald’s also will stress contactless payment options and social distancing, Business Insider said.

“With COVID fatigue setting in, we need to continue ensuring the safety of our people and customers and maintain the customer trust we worked so hard to build,” the memo said.

McDonald’s drive-thrus enjoyed increased demand during the pandemic as dining rooms closed and customers sought to limit in-person contact. As NACS Daily reported last week, the fast-food chain is working on increasing speed at its drive-thrus and is testing a new express drive-thru for customers who place orders via the McDonald’s app. The QSR also is piloting concepts and initiatives that include automating ordering, payments through customer ID at the display screen, dedicated pickup parking spaces and technology that alerts employees it’s time to prep orders.

In a blog post Friday, Joe Erlinger, McDonald’s U.S. president, shared how the company has addressed COVID-19 in its restaurants and disclosed plans to “convene several industry roundtables to share what we’ve seen and what we’ve learned with key stakeholders and peers. This is an area where we don’t see anyone as a competitor; the more that an organization of our scope and scale can share what we’ve learned, the more we can help make everyone safer,” Erlinger wrote.

Meanwhile, governors in several states have issued new guidance on social gatherings and face masks. USA Today has published a state-by-state list of COVID-19-related restrictions. Find it here.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.