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Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes nationwide are beginning to reopen dining rooms to customers, even as some rivals hold off despite loosening coronavirus shutdown orders across the country.
However, it won't be business as usual, at least for the foreseeable future, according to Restaurant Brands International CEO José Cil.
The company, which operates 15,000 Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes locations across North America, is reopening services with a slate of safety measures in place which include introducing acrylic shields to scaling up its contactless service so customers can "quickly return to a sense of comfort and normalcy" when sitting down for a meal.
This is the Restaurant Brands' first step in trying to return to normal operations after it limited services to drive-thru and delivery and mobile as a result of the outbreak of the virus.
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"We believe in the power of creativity and diversity of perspectives," Cil said in an open letter to customers. "This means finding ways to do things differently to make them better. And that a wide range of voices and perspectives makes us stronger. Both have been proudly on display during these past weeks."
The company has acrylic shields and contactless service at most of its restaurants, Cil said. Among the safety measures, the fast-food operator promises to maintain a "safe distance" rule across its dining rooms by using tabletop signage to indicate which tables are open and which ones are reserved.
Employees will also sanitize tables and chairs after each use and hand sanitizer will be available for guests at each location and all beverages, extra condiments and trays will be offered to guests from behind the front counter.
Additionally, the company has improved its digital capabilities in part by adding hundreds of new restaurants onto delivery apps and improving and expanding mobile order and curbside pick-up options.
"As we read all the stories about our communities re-opening, all of the focus is understandably on ways to continue to keep us apart," Cil added. "But one of the most normal things in our lives is coming together. And that often includes sitting down with your family or friends and enjoying a meal together at a restaurant."
Cil promised that the company's employees around the world are participating in "thorough, rigorous training" to ensure that all of the safety protocols are properly implemented.
"There has never been a better time to embrace a business model that serves tens of millions of people a day with speed and limited contact," Cil added.