May 16, 2020
McDonald's Franchisees Receive 59-Page Dining Room Reopening Guide

With certain states preparing for the restarting of in-restaurant dining, McDonald's has sent franchisees an extensive guide of how to deal with these changes -- and maintain customer and employee safety -- during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The 59-page guide consists of measures franchisees will need to enact. These include requiring masks and gloves for employees, cleaning the restrooms in 30-minute intervals, a cap on the number of customers inside at any time, and requiring social distancing.

There will also be mandatory deep-cleaning of the restaurants, protection panels at service counters, and drive-thrus if local laws require them. The PlayPlaces will not be reopened during this phase.

The decision to reopen dining rooms will fall to the individual franchisees, provided they operate in states that have allowed it. Fast food restaurants like McDonald's have been able to stay in operation during the pandemic thanks to drive-thru service and food delivery apps. McDonald's reported only a few of their restaurants have resumed in-restaurant dining as of this writing.

This guide comes amidst tensions between McDonald's and their franchisees, who have been in conflict regarding financial support. Franchisees are seeking aid from the corporation to help recover from losses experienced as a result of the pandemic and the social distancing that has been put in place.

McDonald's has recommended franchisees make purchases such as a "touchless sink" for $718. However, they've also said they would provide "targeted financial assistance" for franchisees experiencing serious hardship, CNBC reported.

Another issue raised in the guide is how franchisees should handle customers who are not complying with CDC recommendations, such as failing to wear masks or gloves. It also includes information on how to speak to loitering individuals.

There are approximately 14,000 McDonald's restaurants operating in the United States. However, fewer than half of states are allowing restaurants to reopen their dining rooms. Of those that have, many have enacted capacity provisions, such as not allowing restaurants to surpass 25 or 50 percent of their maximum occupancy.

McDonald's has acknowledged that the process will not be instantaneous.

"We have a responsibility to get this right, and sometimes doing the right thing takes time," a McDonald's spokesperson said on Wednesday.

McDonald's is not the only fast food brand preparing for in-restaurant dining. Restaurant Brands International -- which owns Burger King, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and Chick-fil-A -- will require plexiglass protection at their counters once their restaurants have fully reopened.