Dunkin' (DNKN) announced today that it will remove all chairs and tables from both the outdoor patios and dining areas of all its restaurant outlets. The step is intended to prevent people from gathering in groups there, even after dine-in services are shut down, surpassing the measures taken by most other restaurant chains. The company's model is switching to delivery, take-out, and drive-through only for the time being.

Outside of a Dunkin' Donuts restaurant.

Image source: Dunkin' Brands

The restaurant's adoption of multiple measures to limit person-to-person contact not only includes the storage of furniture until dining areas reopen, but also shortening open hours. The shorter days are meant to ease the strain on employees who now need to deal exclusively with take-out and mobile orders. Additionally, according to company statements, the early evening closure gives extra time to scrub and disinfect the premises thoroughly before leaving for the night.

Select restaurants will expand curbside service during this period. In areas served by several Dunkin' outlets, some franchisees can opt to close their operation entirely during the COVID-19 crisis. For all locations staying open, Dunkin' will focus on promoting use of its app for ordering. In addition to take-out and drive-through, delivery services like Grubhub (GRUB) will be the preferred method of getting food into the hands of customers.

These measures take effect Tuesday, March 17, with no ending date specified at the present time. Promotions such as a free bag of doughnuts on March Fridays likely remain unchanged. Dunkin' CEO Dave Hoffmann issued a statement declaring the company's commitment to the community's health and his gratitude to "our franchisees and crew, who make our brand stand tall every day."