Three UK takeaway chains have launched limited reopenings, with staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and practising physical distancing.
Burger King and KFC have reopened some sites for delivery only, while Pret a Manger is doing deliveries and takeaways.
The three firms argued that reopening would help NHS staff and other key workers, and promised that stringent safety measures for their employees were in place.
Burger King was operating at four sites from Thursday in Bristol, Swindon and Coventry as part of a phased reopening of more restaurants in the coming weeks.
It said it had introduced measures including providing PPE masks and gloves for staff and training them on the government’s physical distancing measures.
Katie Evans, the marketing director at Burger King UK, said: “We hope that reopening these restaurants for delivery services goes some way to lifting our customers’ spirits in these difficult times.”
She said the restaurants would give away 1,000 meals a week to NHS staff based nearby. “We want to demonstrate how appreciative everyone at Burger King UK is of their efforts in these unprecedented times,” she added.
Pret a Manger was opening 10 shops in London near hospitals run by 160 workers who had volunteered to return. Its CEO, Pano Christou, said the shops would offer a reduced range, plus essentials such as milk, bread and butter for takeaway and delivery only.
There will be a 50% discount for NHS workers until the end April and meals will be donated to homeless people.
Christou said: “This will help give frontline healthcare workers better access to freshly prepared food while also getting our supply chain up and running again to deliver food to the homeless.
“My priority is always to protect our teams and customers as best we can, which means we have put in place a number of new social distancing measures.”
Although government guidelines state that restaurants and pubs have to close, they can prepare food for collection or delivery.
KFC has reopened 11 UK restaurants with a limited menu in the past week for delivery only, in London, Hampshire, Birmingham, Glasgow, Sussex, Greater Manchester and Staffordshire.
The chain said: “We’ve spent the time since closure developing new processes to ensure we can reopen carefully and responsibly, which we’ve now started to do. We also saw the impact the situation is having on those who may not be able to easily get to the supermarkets, like key workers. There’s a need for affordable, accessible food and we wanted to do our part.”
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