Dunkin' limiting coffee customers to carry-out or delivery, 'immediately' removing tables, chairs from shops

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Dunkin’ is taking a cue from Starbucks and ditching its dine-in facilities -- for the time being.

This week, the national coffee chain announced that it would be limiting patrons to only drive-thru, carry-out or delivery where available “in light of the COVID-19 health crisis.” To further discourage customers from interacting, locations will also be “immediately” removing tables and chairs from both indoor and outdoor seating areas.

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“As we navigate through the challenges of COVID-19, I want to reiterate our commitment to the health and safety of our guests, franchisees, employees, and the communities we serve,” Dunkin’ Brands CEO Dave Hoffmann wrote in a statement shared Tuesday.

“We are continuing our legacy of being there when people need us most by taking additional steps to be a safe and welcoming environment during all of this uncertainty. We are grateful for the dedication of our franchisees and crew, who make our brand stand tall every day.”

A Dunkin' worker in Norwell, Mass., hands a coffee out of a drive-thru window on March 17.

A Dunkin' worker in Norwell, Mass., hands a coffee out of a drive-thru window on March 17. (Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

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In addition to prohibiting in-person dining and removing seating, Dunkin’ confirmed that it will be giving franchisees the options to close entirely. Those that remain open may operate with reduced hours to accommodate additional cleaning protocols.

Patrons at Dunkin’ locations will also be encouraged to order via the Dunkin’ app (or via delivery through Dunkin’s delivery partner Grubhub). Employees are also instructed to “move guests through the restaurants as quickly as possible.”

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Dunkin’s health and safety measures come as restaurant chains across the country close their dining areas in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Rival coffee chain Starbucks had previously moved toward a similar “to go” model earlier this week.

Dunkin's efforts follow a similar decision by Starbucks, which announced earlier this week that it would be adopting a "to go" model.

Dunkin's efforts follow a similar decision by Starbucks, which announced earlier this week that it would be adopting a "to go" model. (iStock)

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President Trump on Monday also encouraged Americans to opt for delivery or drive-thru when picking up food from the nation’s restaurants. Dozens of states have already adopted measures banning in-person dining at bars and restaurants altogether, but allowing for those establishments to operate for delivery and takeout only.