Many fast-food chains around the nation are currently considering closing their indoor seating areas again as the Delta variant of COVID-19 causes cases to surge in various areas. Some fast-food restaurants have individually decided to close these indoor seating areas because of virus surges, while others have already closed their indoor area because of labor shortages. This is yet another sign of businesses working to pivot as the Delta variant limits the grand reopenings many companies had earlier this year when it appeared cases had largely subsided.
McDonald’s, perhaps the biggest fast-food chain in the nation (and the world), recently told all of its franchisees that they should re-close their indoor dining areas if they are located in an area where COVID-19 cases are rapidly spreading. Previously, McDonald’s closed almost all of its locations in the United States when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. However, once many Americans started getting fully vaccinated, the chain started loosening some of its regulations. In July, the company revealed that it planned to have all its restaurants fully open again by Labor Day. Last month, about 70% of all McDonald’s had officially reopened its seating areas.
However, the Delta variant has now changed its expectations. While the company is informing its franchisees on what they should do if their restaurant is located in an area where COVID-19 cases are surging, there isn’t any data to currently relay just how many locations have or will shutter their indoor dining areas once again. While closures will more than likely happen as cases continue to surge, many don’t expect these indoor dining area shutters to be more than what occurred in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.
McDonald’s isn’t the only fast-food chain pivoting and attempting to continue to do business successfully in a pandemic. Taco Bell has also been struggling with indoor seating area problems, for many reasons. The business — much like so many other companies this year — has been hit hard by labor shortages that have gripped the nation for the past few months. As a result, many Taco Bell restaurants have experienced labor shortages, forcing locations to shutter their indoor seating area.
Many locations of KFC and Taco Bell, as well as other fast-food chains, have also had to cut hours of service. For fast-food chains like Taco Bell, which rely heavily on late-night traffic, this has negatively impacted the business’s profits.
However, even with all of these recent problems, fast food restaurants as a whole have done well the past few months — and have done well during the pandemic thus far. As many places around the nation were completely closed last year when the pandemic first began, many fast-food chains stayed open, even if their indoor dining areas were closed. Drive-thru, carry out, and delivery services allowed these restaurants to stay fully in business. As many wanted to eat out buy few had many options because of the pandemic, fast food sales soared throughout the pandemic, and sales haven’t necessarily slowed down too much since.