Fast food chain McDonald’s has announced it will halt operations in five cities in China’s Hubei province, where the new deadly coronavirus is believed to originate. The suspension comes into effect on Friday.
The restaurant chain has dozens of locations in the region, including in the city of Wuhan, which is considered to be the epicenter of the virus.
Apart from Wuhan, where most infections have occurred, McDonalds will close restaurants in Ezhou, Huanggang, Qianjing and Xiantao. The company says that the temporary measure is introduced for “for employee and customer health and safety.”
In a statement to RT, McDonald’s said that its restaurants operate normally in cities where public transportation is available, unlike the five cities in Hubei province.
Chinese authorities have placed several cities on lockdown, restricting movement for over 30 million people to halt the spread of the virus. The number of confirmed cases has neared 900 and the death toll reached 26 and rising, with no vaccine available so far.
The spread of the virus comes as China is celebrating one of the biggest holidays of the year, the Spring Festival, or the Chinese New Year. Major Chinese cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, cancelled large public events and closed tourist attractions.