When even Tims is becoming hard to get ahold of, you know Canada's being hit hard. A Tim Hortons COVID-19 statement issued on Monday, March 16, confirmed that the chain is moving to takeout, drive-though, and delivery options only for the time being. All dining rooms and seating areas in each of the chain's restaurants nationwide will be closed indefinitely.
The move is being made to bring Tims in line with the social distancing policy that is being widely recommended in Canada and abroad, in the face of the developing global pandemic.
The change will take effect from Tuesday, March 17.
“As Canada’s leading restaurant brand, we have a responsibility not only to serve guests — but to protect them during this uncertain time,” Tim Hortons said in a statement on Monday.
The statement says restaurant dining rooms and seating will be shuttered “in most locations until further notice.”
However, Financial Post reporter Jake Edmiston tweeted that the change is apparently "mandatory" for all franchisees beginning with the start of tomorrow's service.
And Tim Hortons' parent company, Restaurant Brands International Inc., says it is not afraid to take further measures if advised to do so by public health, according to The Canadian Press, via CTV News.*
To contribute to social distancing that has been called for by public health officials, starting tmrw, our restaura… https://t.co/cHMlscl8FH— Tim Hortons (@Tim Hortons)1584377761.0
RBI's statement acknowledged that Tims restaurants are important local community hubs but stressed it has a growing responsibility to protect its customers right now.
Tim Hortons is just the latest chain to enforce a measure like this, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grows and the global response intensifies.
@jakeedmiston Hi Jake, to contribute to social distancing that has been called for by public health officials, star… https://t.co/mcLkvAb8Xt— Tim Hortons (@Tim Hortons)1584374740.0
Just yesterday, Starbucks Canada announced it was also scrapping all in-location seating.
Tims' move comes just days after a controversy sparked online about its policies towards staff members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, #BoycottTimHortons was trending throughout much of Canada over the weekend after it was reported many franchise locations were asking for doctor's notes in order to approve unpaid sick leave.
There is a lot of misinformation circulating and we want to make this very clear to all Tim Hortons team members an… https://t.co/eMG8BThVEj— Tim Hortons (@Tim Hortons)1584200875.0
Tims responded to the furor by issuing a statement insisting that "there is a lot of misinformation circulating" about their employee policies.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that Canada is "not taking anything off the table" when it comes to overcoming COVID-19.
*This article has been updated.