Tim Hortons, Burger King parent company eyes reopening dining rooms amid COVID-19

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Restaurant Brands International Inc. — the parent company of Tim Hortons, Burger King and Popeyes — announced on Tuesday it is “moving into the next phase of reopening dining rooms” amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

In an open letter, the company’s CEO, Jose Cil, said it is doing so “according to guidance from local authorities and will be welcoming back millions of guests to dine in at our convenient locations.”

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In a statement emailed to Global News, Restaurant Brands International Inc. spokesperson Sarah McConnell said the dining rooms will be opening on a rolling basis “as local governments allow.”

“New Brunswick, P.E.I., Alberta and B.C. have all announced their dates and we are working with owners in these provinces to re-open safely,” she wrote.

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Last week, health officials in B.C. announced a mid-May target to reopen restaurants and bars.

Similarly, health officials in Alberta released online guides on Monday to help businesses and restaurants plan for Stage 1 of the provinces relaunch. The tentative launch date for Stage 1 is Thursday.

READ MORE: Half of Canada’s independent restaurants could close without help, industry group warns

As of Tuesday, McConnell said close to 1,000 dining rooms in North America were open.

“We anticipate this number will continue to increase daily over the coming weeks,” she said.

McConnell said by June 1, the company expects every restaurant will be open for take-out.

Restaurant Brands International Inc. has nearly 15,000 restaurant locations across North America.

The company had shifted its restaurants to take-out and drive-thru only in mid-March in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

According to Cil, a number of safety measures have been implemented at the restaurants.

“For instance, while we have mandated masks and gloves in the short term, our brand and operations teams are now evaluating more comfortable and reusable masks that may become part of our standard uniforms,” the letter reads.

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Cil said most restaurants have acrylic shields and contactless service, and employees will be implementing a “safe distance” rule in the dining rooms.

“We will be sanitizing tables and chairs after each use and will have hand sanitizer available in the dining room for our guests,” the letter reads. “We have turned off our self-serve soda fountains and are offering beverages, extra condiments and trays from the behind the front counter.”

Cil also said employees are participating in “rigorous training” to ensure safety protocols are “well-known and implemented.”

“But equally important, we are reminding all our team members that they play an important role in creating a dining atmosphere that gives you a safe, comfortable and welcoming space to gather with friends and families to enjoy time together over a meal,” Cil wrote.