Three major takeaway chains in the UK have announced limited reopening programmes after closing during the coronavirus lockdown.
Burger King, KFC and Pret A Manger have or will open certain restaurants around the country for delivery only.
Government guidelines state that while restaurants and pubs have to close, they can prepare food for collection or delivery.
The chains had decided to temporarily close as the lockdown took effect.
Burger King is to reopen four restaurants: two in Bristol, one in Coventry, and one in Swindon, with a pared-down menu.
There will be stringent cleaning measures, and staff will get social distancing training.
The restaurants will also donate 1,000 meals per week to staff working at NHS hospitals in the vicinity of the reopened restaurants.
Katie Evans, marketing director at the chain, said Burger King hoped the re-openings would go “some way to lifting our customers’ spirits in these difficult times”.
She added: “We want to demonstrate how appreciative everyone at Burger King UK is of [NHS staff] efforts in these unprecedented times.”
KFC said it had reopened 11 UK restaurants in the past week for delivery only, with a limited menu. The restaurants are in Aldershot, Birmingham, Glasgow, Ipswich, London, Manchester, Portsmouth, Stockport, and Tamworth.
The fast food chain says it has donated “thousands of meals from all our open restaurants to those on the frontline, including the NHS and key workers, in partnership with Deliveroo, and will continue to do so each week whilst the situation continues”.
KFC said it had decided to close temporarily on 23 March “with the wellbeing of our teams and guests in mind”.
A spokesperson said: “We’ve spent the time since closure developing new processes to ensure we can reopen carefully and responsibly, which we’ve now started to do.
“We also saw the impact the situation is having on those who may not be able to easily get to the supermarkets, like key workers. There’s a need for affordable, accessible food and we wanted to do our part.”
The spokesperson added that furloughed staff would find their jobs “waiting for them when we are able to fully reopen”.
Pret a Manger will reopen 10 shop kitchens near London hospitals from Thursday.
“This allows us to also get our supply chain up and running to donate food to homeless charities, so we will be donating 7,000 additional meals per week to our homeless charity partners,” the chain said in a statement.
NHS workers will get half-price food until the end of April.
Pret’s chief executive officer Pano Christou wrote in a blog post that NHS workers and hospitals want to be able to get “freshly made food nearby”.
“We are incredibly grateful that 160 team members have volunteered to help reopen 10 shops in London, located close to hospitals.”
Food delivery firm Deliveroo has raised more than £1.5m from customer donations and corporate funding for free meals for NHS workers.
While the business declined to reveal overall order volumes, it said 3,000 new restaurants had signed up in March.
A report in the Financial Times in March suggested that delivery apps could be feeling the pinch due to restaurant closures and as coronavirus anxiety continues.
However, Deliveroo said it is seeing more orders from families, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. The majority of dishes it delivers are pizza, fish and chips, and burgers, it said.
It added that it had also started to deliver food from stores including Morrisons, McColls, M&S and BP service stations.
Rival delivery firm Just Eat also said that about 3,000 takeaways had signed up since the lockdown was announced.
The firm has seen a 36% rise in orders for desserts, and said customers are ordering food earlier in the day, and earlier in the week.
While fast food is very popular in the UK, there have been warnings about its effects on people’s health for a number of years.
In February, BBC One documentary “The Truth About Takeaways” found that over two weeks of eating two fast food meals per day, participants gained body fat, which is a marker for increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eating two takeaways per week “is associated with increased body weight and various cardiovascular risk markers”, Dr Ian G Davies, Reader in Nutritional Science at Liverpool John Moores University, told the programme.
In general, pizza has the highest salt, fat and energy density compared with other fast foods.