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Coronavirus: Massive queues at McDonald's in Northern Ireland as restaurants close

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The golden arches in darkness as McDonald’s Conswater in east Belfast

The golden arches in darkness as McDonald’s Conswater in east Belfast

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The golden arches in darkness as McDonald’s Conswater in east Belfast

McDonald's has rarely seen queues like it in Northern Ireland.

Customers were lining up throughout the day like there was no tomorrow - and, as far as Mickey D's is concerned, there isn't.

The world's largest and most successful restaurant chain closed all its UK and Irish outlets at 7pm, and the company says they will not reopen until it is safe for employees and customers alike.

Consequently, at Northern Ireland's 30 McDonald's sites, they experienced an unprecedented rush in demand during the final hours of trading.

It was a similar story across the border in the brand's 90 or so franchises.

But inundated staff weren't exactly "lovin it" as customers ordered significantly more than their usual fix on a regular Monday.

It is believed some have taken to bringing the food home to freeze it, giving the children a chance to enjoy Happy Meals way beyond the closure date.

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A large queue of cars leading into a McDonald’s restaurant on Belfast’s Shore Road after the company announced it would be closing all its food outlets due to the coronavirus pandemic

A large queue of cars leading into a McDonald’s restaurant on Belfast’s Shore Road after the company announced it would be closing all its food outlets due to the coronavirus pandemic

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

A large queue of cars leading into a McDonald’s restaurant on Belfast’s Shore Road after the company announced it would be closing all its food outlets due to the coronavirus pandemic

At Connswater in east Belfast lunchtime trading was especially brisk with queues of vehicles stretching back on to the main road.

Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald's UK and Ireland, said over the weekend it had became clear "maintaining social distance whilst operating busy takeaway and 'drive thru' restaurants is increasingly difficult".

Yesterday, he added: "We have taken the difficult decision to close all McDonald's restaurants in the UK & Ireland by 7pm Monday, March 23.

"This is not a decision that has been taken lightly, but one made with the well-being and safety of our people in mind as well as the best interests of our customers.

"We will be working with community groups across the UK and Ireland to distribute food from our restaurants in the coming days, and will ensure frontline health workers and emergency services personnel do not have to pay for any food or drink in our restaurants on sight of their work pass today.

"I want to thank our brilliant employees for their hard work during this incredibly challenging time."

The last 'McFlurry' of customers in Barnwell, Cambridgeshire, led to police being called after customers ignored social distancing guidelines.

As for the freezing of McDonald's produce, the franchise's most loyal customer has no issues with that. Retired US prison guard Don Gorske (67), who made it into the Guinness World Records book - having eaten over 30,000 Big Macs in his lifetime - says he regularly freezes the food after buying it in bulk on Mondays and Thursdays.

So freezing is nothing new - and apparently happens a lot when McDonald's brings out a promotion. According to the online experts, you can safely freeze Big Macs and McChickens, but make sure you purchase them without lettuce.

There is little agreement over freezing the fries, however; for each customer who described the reheated chips as "disgusting', another will argue that they are fine as long as you re-fry them in hot oil.

Belfast Telegraph