Jose Cil, the CEO of Restaurant Brands International Inc. — which owns Burger King, along with Popeyes and Tim Horton’s — confirmed the news on Friday, the same day Restaurant Brands International (RBI) posted its fourth-quarter earnings report.
Cil, however, has said that “most of the closures” were mandated by local officials in China, Bloomberg reports. He also suggested that many of the locations are based in malls that are being forced to close.
In its fourth-quarter report, RBI had also reported that Burger King had its “strongest year of restaurant growth in the last two decades.”
“It’s too early to tell what impact, if any, it’s going to have on short-term performance or results,” Cil said in a call following the report's release, according to Bloomberg.
In a statement shared with Fox News, a representative for RBI confirmed the closures.
“As stated, roughly 50 percent of BK locations in China have been temporarily closed," according to a Burger King spokesperson. "That number is constantly changing as the situation develops.”
RBI could not immediately confirm exactly how many stores had closed, in which areas, or when they are expected to reopen.
The closure of approximately half of Burger King’s China locations follows similar closures from other global restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut and Dairy Queen. Some brands were also instituting additional safety precautions at locations that were still operating, including McDonald’s, which distributed masks and took employees' temperatures when they arrived for work.
RBI, meanwhile, operates more than 27,000 restaurants across the globe.