The administration is urging people to avoid restaurants for the time being due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus — formally known as COVID-19 — but President Donald Trump says that fast-food companies have agreed to keep their drive-thru and pickup options up and running in the meantime.
The president made the announcement at a White House press briefing Tuesday following a morning telephone meeting with several fast-food industry leaders about the ongoing viral outbreak.
"They were great," President Trump said of the meeting. "We discussed the important role that drive-thru, pickup, and delivery service can play in the weeks ahead. So that's happening, and they have been fantastic. They have been absolutely fantastic, and they've been doing it already, but they're keeping it open."
The news came one day after the release of White House coronavirus guidelines that recommend people avoid eating at restaurants, food courts, and bars for the next two weeks in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The guidelines also recommended avoiding social gatherings of more than 10 people and forego noncritical visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
During the Tuesday morning phone meeting, Trump "reminded the restaurants that they can help flatten the curve and slow the spread of this virus in communities across the country by encouraging their customers to use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options," according to a statement from White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere. "All of the executives committed their restaurants to this critical guideline and assured the President they fully intend to continue feeding their communities through these other innovative avenues."
According to the White House, attendees at the meeting included executives from Domino's Pizza, Chick-fil-A, McDonald's, Papa Johns, Wendy's, and YUM! Brands — which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC — among others.
The announcement comes as some restaurants have started to restrict customers' dining options, and others have found themselves shut down by local authorities.
Ahead of Tuesday's meeting, McDonald's, Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A had already announced temporary closures of their restaurants' dining areas while other restaurants had already announced that they would offer free delivery in the face of the virus' spread, according to a list compiled by WRIC-TV.
At the same time, a growing number of state and local authorities across the country have started ordering that restaurants and bars to temporarily close, or at least stop serving dine-in customers for now. On Tuesday, the governors of Iowa and North Carolina added their states to the list as well.