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McDonald’s and Starbucks Are Closing Locations in Parts of China Because of Coronavirus Concerns

Plus, a former employee is suing Applebee’s, claiming she was fired for speaking out about Islamaphobia, and more news to start your day

Customers walk in an out of a McDonald’s in Shanghai.
A McDonald’s in Shanghai, China.
Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

McDonald’s and Starbucks temporarily suspend business in multiple cities in China

McDonald’s and Starbucks are among several U.S. businesses that have suspended or modified operations in China amid the coronavirus outbreak.

All McDonald’s restaurants in the Hubei province’s Wuhan, Ezhou, Huanggang, Qianjiang, and Xiantao have been closed, as first reported by Reuters. Those five cities are at the center of the outbreak, and have been impacted by the Chinese government’s travel bans; at least 10 cities in Hubei face travel restrictions, as the coronavirus has killed 81 people and infected at least 2,800 in China.

“McDonald’s restaurant operation in Hubei province runs normally in cities where public transportation is available,” a company spokesperson told CNN. In locations where the restaurants are still open, McDonald’s is implementing additional safety measures: checking employees’ temperatures upon arrival and sending home anyone with fevers or cold symptoms; requiring workers to wear masks, use disinfectants, and wash their hands more frequently; and placing hand sanitizers in stores for customers.

Starbucks is closing all locations in the Hubei province, and has already closed its Wuhan stores, the Wall Street Journal reports. The coffee chain has also instituted temperature checks and mask distribution for employees across China, and is requiring workers to sanitize their hands every half hour.

And in other news…

  • Sheep lungs, a key ingredient for haggis, has been banned from being sold in the U.S. since the 1970s. Here’s how some stateside Scots smuggle it in anyway. [NYT]
  • A former Applebee’s employee is suing the chain, alleging that she was fired from a New Jersey location — described as “a hostile work environment where racism and bigotry were commonplace” — after she asked a customer who made derogatory comments about Muslims to leave the restaurant. [NBC News]
  • The director of the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association pays tribute to Kobe Bryant, who was reportedly named after Kobe beef after his father tasted it and loved it. [Washington Post]
  • Pay-to-play is apparently the name of the game for a New Orleans food Instagram account, which is baldly soliciting payment to include restaurants on its Mardi Gras eats list. This is not how service journalism is supposed to work! [@brettmartin/Twitter]
  • Fast-casual chicken restaurant Slim Chickens is expanding in Oklahoma and Texas. [QSR Magazine]
  • Pepsi’s Super Bowl commercial will star Missy Elliott, H.E.R., and Pepsi Zero Sugar. [Adweek]
  • How to make your bread … portable:

All AM Intel Coverage [E]