McDonald’s has temporarily closed a branch in Guangzhou, China after it barred black customers, claiming the ban was a response to local regulations.

Over recent days, the southern city’s African population have been subjected to forced evictions, arbitrary quarantines and mass testing in light of the coronavirus crisis.

The community became a target of suspicion after a covid-19 outbreak linked to the city’s Nigerian population. Some have ended up on the streets, unable to enter restaurants or even grocery stores.

Inclusive values

A clip shared on Twitter by Black Livity China on Sunday showed a sign at a McDonald’s branch banning black customers: “We’ve been informed that from now on black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant. For the sake of your health consciously notify the local police for medical isolation, please understand the inconvenience caused. police TEL:110,” it read.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the McDonald’s Corporation told HKFP that the restaurant’s action were not in line with its inclusive values: “Immediately upon learning of an unauthorized communication to our guests at a restaurant in Guangzhou, we immediately removed the communication and temporarily closed the restaurant.”

File photo: In-Media.

“As part of the temporary closure of this restaurant, we will take the opportunity to further educate managers and employees on our values, which includes serving all members of the communities in which we operate,” the fast food giant said.

In a statement sent to The Shanghaiist, McDonald’s China also apologised for the incident.

It is not the first time the US eatery has been under fire for being insensitive. Last October, it was forced to apologise after Portuguese branches launched a “Sundae Bloody Sundae” promotion. Bloody Sunday also refers to a 1972 crackdown in Northern Ireland which saw UK soldiers kill 13 unarmed Catholic protesters.

Correction 23:55: The sundae promotion occurred in Portugal, not Italy, as an early version of this report suggested.

Tom founded Hong Kong Free Press in 2015 and is the editor-in-chief. In addition to editing, he is responsible for managing the newsroom and company - including fundraising, recruitment and overseeing HKFP's web presence and ethical guidelines.

He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He previously led an NGO advocating for domestic worker rights, and has contributed to the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera and others.