Restaurants defend dining rooms as COVID-19 spreads


Restaurant chains are setting long-term plans to keep dining rooms open whenever and wherever possible as the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of relenting.

McDonald’s Corp., Starbucks Corp. and other chains are serving customers inside, in line with safety standards they say they have honed during roughly nine months of grappling with the virus. Executives say they see an immediate boost in sales when dining rooms reopen.

However, with Covid-19 cases rising to new heights, these chains and other restaurant owners are closing some dining rooms again now where officials have instructed them to do so. Illinois suspended indoor dining statewide on Wednesday, while a two-week stay-at-home order imposed by El Paso, Texas, through Nov. 11 has shut dining rooms.

McDonald’s and Starbucks say they aren’t shutting dining rooms across the board this time. Instead they are fine-tuning plans that they say allow them to serve customers inside safely, even as the virus continues to circulate across the U.S.


McDonald’s said it has told U.S. franchisees they may reopen dining rooms when coronavirus cases fall locally for three consecutive weeks.

Starbucks executives said in October that reopening cafes with spaced-out tables and enhanced cleaning protocols has boosted sales. “When we opened the cafe for limited seating, the response is immediate,” Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson said.

Some chains, including Wingstop Inc., have decided to keep dining rooms closed, reflecting the quandary facing restaurants—and other companies—operating in uncertain and fluctuating circumstances. From manufacturers to malls, businesses are overhauling their operations to keep operating during a global pandemic. As Covid-19 cases climb again, companies are revisiting their recently developed policies and procedures, and changing them as needed.

Health experts say that while restaurants can take steps to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus inside, takeaway service and outdoor dining remain safer…Read more>>



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