• Close to 1,000 Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons locations have reopened their dining rooms across North America, Restaurant Brands International announced on Tuesday. 
  • McDonald’s told Business Insider the chain is moving into the “recovery” stage of the pandemic and allowing franchisees who meet certain requirements to open their dining rooms as well. 
  • Fast-food chains are making changes as they reopen, including shields, social distancing rules, and blocking off certain tables. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hundreds of fast-food locations are once again letting customers eat in their dining rooms, including Burger King, Popeyes, and McDonald’s.

On Tuesday, Restaurant Brands International CEO José Cil announced that close to 1,000 dining rooms at Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Horton’s are fully open in North America. 

“As we read all the stories about our communities reopening, all of the focus is understandably on ways to continue to keep us apart. But one of the most normal things in our lives is coming together,” Cil wrote in an open letter. “And that often includes sitting down with your family or friends and enjoying a meal together at a restaurant.”

Cil said guidance from RBI executives in Asia have helped guide the company’s decisions as it works to safely reopen dining rooms in the US. 

Changes include acrylic shields and contactless service in most locations, safe distance rules in kitchens, and “beautiful” new signage to indicate which tables are available. Stores are sanitizing tables after each use and have turned off self-serve soda fountains. 

“We have fully embraced the notion that parts of our restaurants need to change – certainly, for the foreseeable future and possibly forever,” Cil writes. “For instance, while we have mandated masks and gloves in the short-term, our brand and operations teams are now evaluating more comfortable and reusable masks that may become part of our standard uniforms.” 

mcdonald's coronavirus

A trial McDonald’s Netherlands location, with new social distancing features.

REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

McDonald’s US vice president of communications David Tovar told Business Insider on Monday the company is moving out of the pandemic’s crisis phrase, though it may once again “rear its ugly head” as some areas face outbreaks and experts warn of a potential second wave.

Now, Tovar said, McDonald’s is thinking about its recovery phase and beginning to open up dining rooms.

McDonald’s is setting national minimum standards on subjects such as social distancing and other safety procedures. If franchisees meet these standards and local regulations allow, they can decided if it is safe to reopen dining rooms. 

McDonald’s declined to share how many dining rooms are now open. Changes in these locations include new seating layouts, making sure restaurants have sufficient masks and gloves, and closing self-serve beverage bars. Making sure restaurants are fresh and clean is also expected to become more and more important for customers. 

As businesses reopen, fast-food chains have not rushed to bring customers back into dining rooms. Chains like McDonald’s and Burger King emphasized their drive-thru business instead of immediately opening dining rooms when states lifted shelter in place orders. 

“The sort of mantra that we’ve been using internally is that we’re going to move slowly and judiciously, because we certainly don’t want to move too fast and then put either our employees or any customers at any additional risk,” Tovar said. 

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