In a statement from McDonald’s UK & Ireland chief executive officer Paul Pomroy, the decision to close the restaurants was explained.
“Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and Drive Thru restaurants is increasingly difficult and therefore we have taken the decision to close every restaurant in the UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday 23 March.
“We have not taken this decision lightly and know that our restaurants have been playing an important role in the community providing hundreds of thousands of free drinks to frontline health and social workers and emergency services personnel.
“But I have been clear throughout this that we would only continue to operate whilst it was safe for our people and together with our franchisees, we feel now is the time to make this decision to temporarily close.
“We will be working closely with community groups across the UK and Ireland to distribute food from our restaurants to those most in need, and ahead of closing tomorrow evening, will ensure frontline health workers and emergency services personnel do not have to pay for any food or drink in our restaurants on sight of their work pass.”
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) issued several statements on the situation.
In one, it said: “McDonalds is an important buyer of Irish beef. Their closure is a big blow to the sector.
“Unfortunately, it is reflective of what is happening across Europe where closures have had an impact on the food service sector. However, some of this has been mitigated by an increase in retail demand.”
IFA president Tim Cullinan appealed for action from the European Commission and the Irish government to help beef producers. He outlined a list measures that would help producers:
• Make the necessary adjustments to EU beef market supports (Intervention, APS) so as to be in a position to provide realistic beef market price supports.
• Move to protect the internal EU market and suspend all non-EU beef imports including South American imports, which do not meet EU standards.
• Adjustments to State Aid rules to give more flexibility to the Irish Government to support farmers.
• Allocate the necessary funding so the Commission is in a position to provide additional urgent direct payment supports to farmers to compensate for beef market losses.
• A review of the inspection requirements so that all farmers can get all of their direct payments without any hold up because of inspections.