Queues of cars as McDonald’s drive-thrus reopen in NI

There were queues of cars in Co Down as the first McDonald’s restaurants reopened in Northern Ireland following lockdown.

By Rebecca Black and Michael McHugh PA
Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, 1:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, 1:22 pm

The Bangor and Newtownards branches opened for drive-thru only customers, with a limited menu and £25 maximum spend on Tuesday morning.

Friends Zoe Mellon and Hannah Thompson were among the first customers in Bangor.

“We just got two Happy Meals,” said Zoe.

McDonald's drive thru in Bangor. (Photo: Presseye)

“With 20 chicken nuggets and large fries,” added Hannah. “It’s our favourite fast food place, we heard from friends it was reopening this morning, it’s been all over Facebook.”

They described their experience of lockdown as having been tough.

“We’ve been missing seeing our friends at school, although not the work, and missing exercising,” said Zoe.

Paris McDonagh, business manager at the Bangor branch, said there had been a lot of work behind the scene before the reopening.

“There was a lot of training, a lot of preparation goes into making sure the store is clean and sanitised and ready to go,” he told the PA news agency.

“There are a lot of restrictions in place, screens to keep our staff and customers safe and following all the guidelines to ensure everyone that does come back stays safe.”

McDonald’s is staging a phased reopening of all drive-thrus across the UK this week following a pilot in May.

It had temporarily closed all its restaurants in Ireland and the UK in March.

Meanwhile, in the Northern Ireland Assembly on Tuesday, TUV leader Jim Allister criticised the “secrecy” around the R number which indicates how quickly coronavirus is spreading.

He urged the Executive Office to publish graphs showing the movement of the value.

Easing of social distancing rules has been described as dependent on the R number remaining under one.

Sinn Fein junior minister at the Executive Office Declan Kearney responded to Mr Allister’s comments.

He described the R number as an “incredibly volatile measurement” which “changes from day to day”.

“The last information which I received in relation to the R factor indicated that it was in or about 0.9, which is moving very dangerously towards one, and when we hit that particular point then we can see an escalation and increased pressure being placed on hospital capacity and ICUs,” he said.

On Monday, police estimated crowds of 1,000 people enjoyed the good weather on beaches in Crawfordsburn and Helen’s Bay in Co Down.

The deputy chairperson of Stormont’s Health Committee, Pam Cameron, said the number of coronavirus deaths and new positive tests are now at extremely low levels.

She expressed dismay at large gatherings which did not adhere to social distancing.

DUP junior minister at the Executive Office, Gordon Lyons, told the Assembly: “They are disturbing local residents.

“They are being abusive to others and they are getting into fights. This is unacceptable.”

Stormont’s chief scientific officer, Professor Ian Young, has pointed out that if hotels reopen as planned by July 20 then people could be able to meet relatives indoors as well.

A Department of Health statement said: “Decisions on the easing of restrictions will be taken when the conditions and the time is right to do so.”

Environment Minister Edwin Poots said he was grateful to those processing waste for their vital work.