McDonald's Corp said on Sunday it would temporarily close all its restaurants in the UK and Ireland by Monday evening because of the coronavirus outbreak.
"We have taken the difficult decision to close all McDonald's restaurants in UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday 23rd March at the latest," the company said in a tweet.
Restaurants have been forced to shut doors or limit service to delivery and takeaway in many parts of the world in efforts to curb the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.
In China, the epicenter of the virus, McDonald's has reopened 95% of its restaurants, Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski said on Friday.
Separately, the fast-food chain has suspended share buybacks to help it navigate through the crisis, but has not changed its dividend policy.
McDonald’s is one of the largest exporters of Irish beef by volume, with the company spending €163m on Irish produce for export to McDonald’s restaurants across the UK and Europe. It purchases about 40,000 tonnes of Irish beef annually. One in every five burgers sold in its outlets across Europe is of Irish origin. According to the company, Northern Ireland farmers benefit from £23m worth of income annually for products such as beef and milk.
There are 95 McDonald’s restaurants in operation in the Republic of Ireland and 30 restaurants in Northern Ireland. It employs almost 6,000 people in the Republic and more than 3,000 in Northern Ireland.
The Irish Farmers Journal describe the news as a "massive blow" for the Irish beef trade. According to the Irish Farmers Journal, "The move will have the biggest effect on Dawn Meats, which has produced over one billion beef burgers for the fastfood chain since a €300m deal was signed between the two companies in 2012. Dawn Meat's production site at Carroll’s Cross in Waterford now produces more than 400m beef burgers a year for McDonald's outlets in Ireland, the UK and Continental Europe." (Reuters)