At least five major fast food and coffee chains have temporarily halted operations at some locations in the Wuhan, China, area amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, which has already claimed the lives of at least 81 victims while over 50 million people remain on lockdown in 17 Chinese cities.
On Friday, McDonald's and Starbucks announced they had temporarily suspended business at select locations in the Wuhan area, the capital at the Hubei province, in hopes of preventing the virus’ spread.
For the time being, operations have ceased at McDonald’s restaurants in Wuhan, Ezhou, Huanggang, Qianjiang, and Xiantao, Business Insider reports.
"Masks are urgently being distributed so that very soon all crews across the country will be wearing them," a spokesperson for McDonald's said. “Internal communications are enhanced for promoting more frequent hand washing and disinfection, as well as helping employees to have a greater general understanding of epidemic prevention."
Throughout the rest of the province where its restaurants still operate, McDonald's is also reportedly taking the temperature of its employees when they arrive at work, and sending anyone with a fever or cold symptoms home, the Associated Press reports. Delivery drivers are required to wear masks, while workers are being instructed to disinfect high-contact surfaces like tables, chairs, door handles and self-ordering kiosks more frequently than usual.
Likewise, Starbucks has temporarily closed all shops in Wuhan and the Hubei province through Feb. 2. The shut-down includes the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai.
"We are working closely with local health authorities, taking actions with the health of partners and customers top of mind, including closing stores in some locations," a representative for the coffee chain also shared with the outlet, adding that the company will "continue monitoring this closely to take further actions as the situation evolves."
Both Starbucks and the Golden Arches drive big business through China. According to The Wall Street Journal, China is counted as Starbuck’s second-biggest market outside America, while McDonald’s boasted 2,902 stores across the country in its latest quarter.
On Monday, a spokesperson for Yum China confirmed to Fox News that “most” KFC and Pizza Hut locations in the Hubei province have been closed for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus concerns.
“Yum China is closely monitoring the situation and following guidance from the relevant authorities. We have implemented various preventative measures across our restaurants and workplaces to help protect our employees and customers,” the spokesperson said. “This includes the temporary closure of most KFC and Pizza Hut stores in Hubei Province until further notice.”
“We will continue to evaluate the need for additional actions and preventive health measures,” they added.
Business has reportedly been suspended at the affected KFC and Pizza Hut locations since Friday.
Meanwhile, several Dairy Queen shops in Wuhan have been closed since Jan. 22, per Business Insider.
“The health and well-being of our employees and customers is of the utmost importance to International Dairy Queen and we continue to practice preventative measures to protect them,” an international Dairy Queen spokesperson told Fox News on Monday. “We have temporarily closed select locations, are continuing to monitor the situation and are closely following the direction of local authorities.”
Spokespeople for McDonald’s and Starbucks were not immediately available to offer further comment on the news of the temporary closures.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.