TORONTO — Tim Hortons parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. says it is asking Canadian restaurant owners to provide take-out, drive-thru and delivery only in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The company said Monday it is closing all dining room seating at Tim Hortons effective Tuesday and will continue the closures until further notice.
The change comes as governments across the country urge Canadians to engage in social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.
Restaurant Brands acknowledged that Tim Hortons restaurants are gathering places for communities, but said the change was being made to contribute to social distancing that has been called for by public health officials.
"As Canada's leading restaurant brand, we have a responsibility not only to serve guests — but to protect them during this uncertain time," the company said in a statement.
It said if there are further instructions from public health officials it will take any necessary extra steps.
Starbucks made a similar move on Sunday by announcing the removal of seating from its locations. The chain said customers will still be able to make purchases in-store and through its app, but they'll be encouraged to take items to go.
The company is also temporarily closing stores in "high-social gathering locations'' such as shopping malls and on university campuses.
McDonald's Canada said on Monday evening it would close all in-restaurant seating areas and shift service to carry-out, drive-thru and delivery only, and will continue to shift operations as needed during the evolving situation created by COVID-19. McDonald's locations had already closed their play areas.
Following the lead of public health agencies, businesses have been moving to reduce contact among both staff and customers, and limiting non-essential travel.
Earlier Monday, clothing retailer Aritzia Inc. announced that it was closing all of its stores until further notice as businesses across the country move to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, though customers could continue to shopping through the company's website for the time being.
Aritzia also said it was increasing precautionary measures to ensure the well-being of its concierge and distribution centre employees as well as shifting all support office employees to flexible working arrangements.
Aritzia has more than 95 stores.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2020.
Companies in this story: (TSX:QSR, TSX:ATZ)
The Canadian Press