Is fast food going too slow in reopening for dine-in business?
City by city and state by state, U.S. retailers are reopening as reported COVID-19 infections continue to drop. Fast food chains, however, have been moving more slowly.
While local restaurants have been opening up, chains including Popeye’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks and those owned by Yum! Brands have remained more focused on digital sales and limited in the full reopening of stores in key markets, according to Yahoo! Finance. Brands cite operating in accordance with CDC guidelines and local regulations, but are farther from across-the-board reopening than smaller restaurant operators.
Part of the hesitation may be found in the franchise model some of these brands operate under. McDonald’s franchisees in late May were insisting on staying closed despite the easing of local restrictions, according to a Bloomberg report. Some stated that they were doing well enough through drive-thrus and mobile ordering and had neither enough staff to reopen nor interested diners to justify reopening. The chain hopes to have all restaurants fully open by late August.
Though COVID-19 cases continue to fall in the U.S., so has the rate of vaccinations, according to a CIDRAP report.
Low vaccination rates in some parts of the U.S. have raised concerns about a possible resurgence of the pandemic that would require the reintroduction of mitigation measures — even reaching the point of renewed store closures and lockdowns.
This trend is compounded by the emergence of the novel coronavirus’s Delta variant, a more contagious mutation of the virus that originated in India. The virus has recently and quickly become the dominant strain in the U.K., where a surge in infections has yet to stabilize despite the current high rate of vaccinations there (67 percent vaccinated, 49 percent fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times COVID-19 vaccinations tracker). Two weeks ago, U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson paused the nation’s reopening plans due to the COVID-19 surge.
The anticipated July 5 full reopening of U.K. restaurants has been rescheduled to July 19 at the earliest, according to an Eater report.
Experts expect to see the Delta variant become the dominant strain of the virus circulating in the U.S. as well, according to CBS News.
- McDonald’s, fast food giants slow to embrace indoor dining as restaurants boom – Yahoo! Finance
- McDonald’s Reopening Plans Face Reluctance From Some Franchisees – Bloomberg
- Tracking Coronavirus Vaccinations Around the World – The New York Times
- US COVID-19 cases continue to fall—as do vaccinations – CIDRAP
- COVID Delta variant takeover in U.K. offers a warning, and some hope – CBS News
- Restaurants Will Not Reopen Fully Before 19 July – Eater
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are fast food chains hurting themselves by not reopening more quickly or has the pandemic established a new operating model wherein consumers prefer drive-through and curbside pickup rather than dining in? Are restaurants and retailers prepared for the Delta variant and its possible effect on their businesses?