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Chick-fil-A halts dine-in seating amid coronavirus pandemic

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A said it is temporarily closing dine-in seating at its restaurants, joining a wave of U.S. businesses cutting back operations as the coronavirus outbreak intensifies.

Atlanta fast food chain’s drive-thru lanes to remain open

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A said it is temporarily closing dine-in seating at its restaurants, joining a wave of U.S. businesses cutting back operations as the coronavirus outbreak intensifies.

The nation’s third-largest restaurant chain by revenue said in an online statement late Sunday that “As we navigate the evolving impact of coronavirus on our communities, we are temporarily closing our dining room seating to help limit person-to-person contact. Some of our restaurants may only offer service through our drive-thrus, while others may be able to offer takeout, delivery or mobile order options. Thanks for your patience.”

The company’s initial statement didn’t specify whether or how the changes would affect employment levels in the chain’s more than 2,500 restaurants.

Some state and city governments recently announced decisions to close or set new restrictions on bars and restaurants, including barring in-restaurant seating in communities.

The biggest U.S. fast-food brands typically already generate the bulk of their revenue in drive-through lines. Chick-fil-A is no exception, normally pulling in about 70% of sales through drive-through windows. Even with numerous steps to speed up service, the chain's fast growth and popularity left it with the slowest drive-through times among major fast-food brands, according to third-party testing reported on last year by industry publication QSR. 

Late last week, Chick-fil-A said while its restaurants remained open at that time, it had made other changes including closing playgrounds and reworking how it handled beverage refills. It also said different restaurants might make other changes, such as reducing operating hours or limiting menu items.

Also last week, the chain took steps to temporarily have its more than 2,000 headquarters employees work remotely.