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FAST-FOOD chain Five Guys was accused of “putting profit before people’s lives” after it reopened dozens of restaurants to sell takeaways, leading to chaotic scenes in Sheffield as social distancing broke down.
Customers at the burger firm’s restaurant in the South Yorkshire city said it was impossible for the queuing crowds to stay two metres apart or even to get to the doors safely.
Panicked staff abandoned their posts, while some customers gave up and went home – even though they had paid for their meals in advance. Others got inside the restaurant and served themselves.
Five Guys was founded in the United States in 1986 and now has 1,500 restaurants worldwide and 110 in Britain.
The British restaurants closed when the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March.
But on Tuesday, Five Guys reopened 43 restaurants for takeaway sales.
In Sheffield, an estimated 100 people queued outside for up to two hours, having been promised their meal at a fixed time.
Sarah Woolley, general secretary of food workers’ union BFAWU, told the Star: “We are shocked that Five Guys made the decision to open, with what seems to be a total lack of regard to not only their employees’ health and safety but the health and safety of the general public, their customers, too.”
She said it shows “without a doubt” that Five Guys “are putting profit before their people,” adding: “I can only begin to imagine how scared the employees were of not only contracting the virus but the actions of the customers who decided to serve themselves.”
Five Guys UK chief executive John Eckbert said: “We have adopted a phased approach to reopening Five Guys stores, adhering to government advice and ensuring the safety of our customers and crew is paramount.”
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