Coronavirus: McDonald's will continue to pay its staff during closure in Singapore

Fast-food chain, which has over 10,000 staff here, says it was advised by MOH to shut

The drive-through at McDonald's in West Coast Park (left) and the McDonald's outlet at White Sands mall (above) in Pasir Ris were among the more than 130 outlets here that shuttered yesterday. Seven employees have tested positive for Covid-19 in the
The drive-through at McDonald's in West Coast Park were among the more than 130 outlets here that shuttered yesterday. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
The drive-through at McDonald's in West Coast Park (left) and the McDonald's outlet at White Sands mall (above) in Pasir Ris were among the more than 130 outlets here that shuttered yesterday. Seven employees have tested positive for Covid-19 in the
McDonald's employs more than 10,000 people in Singapore and serves more than six million customers every month. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

All McDonald's branches in Singapore closed at 11am yesterday and will remain closed until May 4, but the fast-food giant has offered assurances that it will continue to pay its staff.

This comes after seven of its employees tested positive for Covid-19 in the past week.

Announcing the move on Facebook yesterday morning, McDonald's said that all restaurant operations will be suspended, including its delivery and takeaway services.

"As a preventative action in the fight against Covid-19, we have been advised by the Ministry of Health to suspend all restaurant operations, including McDelivery and Drive-Thru, until May 4," said the post.

"We will be closing all restaurants today, April 19, at 11am, and will take our last Drive-Thru and delivery orders at 8am and 10.30am, respectively."

The fast-food giant, which has more than 130 outlets here, had suspended its walk-in takeaway service last Saturday.

In response to queries, McDonald's told The Straits Times that its outlets in Changi Airport Terminal 3 and a drive-through outlet at a Shell petrol kiosk in Tampines Avenue 2 were to be closed for deep-cleaning after two employees tested positive for Covid-19.

This comes after five other employees were diagnosed with the disease on April 12. They worked at outlets in Lido, Forum Galleria, Parklane and Geylang East Central.

On its Facebook post yesterday, McDonald's said that its decision to close all its branches was made to take care of its customers and its workers.

It said: "These are unprecedented times for all of us. With the safety of all our customers and employees as the top priority, we will do all we can to help Singapore flatten the curve.

"From all of us at McDonald's Singapore, we thank you for your continued support. We will miss you, and look forward to serving you again."

McDonald's employs more than 10,000 people in Singapore and serves more than six million customers every month.

In response to queries from ST, a spokesman for McDonald's said that it will continue to pay the salaries of all employees whose roles are disrupted.

"The next two weeks will allow our employees to stay home and be assured that their jobs are secure," added the spokesman.

When asked what will be done about McDonald's stock of food, he said that all perishables with a short shelf life will be discarded.

He also said that McDonald's acted as soon as it was advised by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to suspend its operations, but did not specify when this took place.

Many here tried to make one last order via the McDonald's delivery app and website in the few hours between when the news broke and when the suspension kicked in yesterday.

But not everyone was successful, and some said that McDonald's could not cope with its orders.

Mr Shane Tan, who tried to order breakfast from McDonald's website, gave up after waiting for 15 minutes for the website to load.

"It is so abrupt that McDonald's decided to close now, especially since they were running promotions until yesterday. I hope that they can return soon because during these times, they provide not just fast food, but comfort food," said Mr Tan, who works in the media industry and is in his 30s.

On a Facebook post yesterday, KFC said that it was experiencing a "recent increase in demand", and added that from today onwards, all delivery and takeaway orders that customers make online will be made contactless.

Singapore's ongoing circuit breaker period, which lasts until May 4, has seen most workplaces being closed, schools transitioning to full home-based learning and most people staying home to practise safe distancing in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The country reported 596 new cases yesterday, bringing the total number of cases here to 6,588.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2020, with the headline McDonald's will continue to pay its staff during closure in Singapore. Subscribe