KFC introduces major coronavirus closure after McDonald's announcement

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
KFC will close restaurant dining, offering pick-up, delivery and drive-through services. Photo: Getty Images

KFC has joined the Coronavirus containment effort, announcing a major change to their service in a bid to minimise COVID-19’s impact in Australia.

Following McDonald’s changes announced on Tuesday, and a staff member in a Brisbane store testing positive to the virus last week, KFC has implemented new measures as of Wednesday morning, and they’re taking prevention to the next level.

The fast-food chain will immediately close in-restaurant dining and offer only delivery and pick up options, as well as ramping up hand and surface sanitising efforts among staff.

“From Wednesday 18 March, we’ve chosen to temporarily close our dining room seating and ask everyone to use drive-thru, takeaway or get KFC home-delivered instead,” a statement shared to the company’s website reads.

The stores will also provide coronavirus-specific training from staff.

“Every KFC staff member is getting special COVID-19 training and we’ve already introduced extra cleaning of surfaces,” the statement reads.

KFC in-restaurant dining has been closed over coronavirus concerns. Photo: Getty Images

“Importantly, and in line with expert advice, all staff will be washing their hands even more frequently (above industry standards) – even if they’ve had no outside contact.”

The restaurant has not announced a time period for the closure and has not yet confirmed whether staff will be reduced and, if so, whether payment will be provided to casual staff.

Yahoo Lifestyle has contacted KFC for comment.

Customers thrilled with coronavirus containment measures

Shared to social media, the announcement was happily received by many customers thrilled to see preventative measures being implemented, and their favourite takeaway chicken still available.

“Excellent work KFC. Great to see you doing something to look after those frontline staff,” one customer wrote.

“Thank you for showing great leadership with this decision to keep staff and customers safer,” another wrote.

Macca’s announced social distancing measures on Tuesday

McDonald's is not providing contactless options at every restaurants as customers complain of 'risky' approach. Photo: Getty Images

The announcement comes after McDonald’s announced their own, slightly less drastic measures on Tuesday morning.

McDonald’s tells Yahoo Lifestyle changes were in response to ‘the current environment’, though did not confirm if customer complaints drove the changes forwards.

In an announcement shared to the company’s website on Tuesday morning, CEO Andrew Gregory announced stores across the country would be introducing new contactless options for pick up and delivery.

“To ensure you have the flexibility to suit your needs, we’re introducing new contactless options to our In-restaurant, Drive-Thru and McDelivery services,” he said in a statement.

“These procedures will minimise customer and employee contact to further improve the safety of our restaurants.”

Specifically, the new in-store procedure will see crew members place bags on counters for customers to pick up, avoiding any skin to skin contact.

Customers will also be able to order and pay through the store’s MyMacca’s App, and delivery services will offer a contactless drop-off if requested.

“With more than 100,000 employees across the country, we are taking this issue seriously and will continue to respond,” the statement concluded.

Customers coronavirus complaints met halfway

Customers have called for touch screens to be canned during the pandemic, McDonald's has increased cleaning on the devices. Photo: Getty Images

The change comes as customers flooded the chain’s Facebook page with complaints over behaviour perceived by many as dangerous in light of the pandemic.

Some called for touch screens to be discontinued altogether as a potential hotspot for hand transmitted germs.

“Please bring back cashier service,” the man wrote. “Self-service touch screens in the current situation is very risky for potential cross-infection.”

“At least provide hand sanitiser at each terminal.”

A spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo Lifestyle that touch screen orders are still being used, in line with the new measures.

“Touch screens remain on, but in with line the message from our CEO, we have increased the cleaning and sanitising of all contact surfaces, including our kiosks,” they said.

One man complained of staff handling food and drink without gloves in Granville in Sydney’s western suburbs.

“I am not happy as went to Granville Macca’s today… and only one out of 10 workers were wearing gloves,” he wrote. 

Many complained of staff handling drinking straws with bare hands. Photo: Getty Images

The sentiment was echoed by many customers online.

“At the moment McDonald’s staff are still using bare hands to put straws in drinks,” another wrote. “We have no idea where your staff have been or if they clean their hands. McDonald’s really need to pick up their game urgently.”

McDonald’s has reassured customers that those preparing meals will continue wearing gloves as per-company policy, but did not include employees working drive-through windows, cash registers and food distribution in the statement. A spokesperson did not comment on extending the use of gloves to all employees.

Others asked that sick staff members stay at home.

“You should have a policy where staff don't work if they have a cold,” a woman wrote. “I have seen twice someone serving in the drive-through with shocking productive colds - yuck!”

McDonald’s employs over 100,000 many of whom are casual and did not comment whether casual employees will be paid in the event of a closure or a personal coronavirus scare.

As of Tuesday morning, Australia has 400 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, with 171 in NSW.

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