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Coronavirus Forces McDonald’s to Cancel Moscow Birthday Plans

McDonald's on Pushkin Square in Moscow. Sergei Fadeichev / TASS

McDonald’s has been forced to cancel plans for a bargain Big Mac promotion celebrating 30 years since the opening of its first restaurant in Russia due to coronavirus fears.

The U.S. fast food chain had been planning to sell Big Macs for the symbolic price of 3 rubles ($0.05) all day Friday at its first Russian restaurant on Pushkin Square in central Moscow. Three rubles represents the price of a Big Mac when the restaurant first opened on Jan. 31, 1990 — around half a day’s wages for the average Soviet worker at the time.

However, McDonald’s said it was canceling the plans for cut-price Big Macs on advice from the Russian government that large public events posed a risk of the virus spreading.

“The campaign dedicated to the 30th anniversary of McDonald's in Russia, offering the Big Mac at the same price as 30 years ago … is canceled. The Moscow government has announced measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the city, and has recommended to refrain from holding public events in crowded places in the near future, in order to minimize the risks of infection,” said a statement posted on McDonald’s website Thursday.

McDonald’s promised it would “find another time and way to celebrate.”

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Russia yet. In a bid to contain the outbreak, Russia has closed its Far East border with China, banned Chinese tour groups from coming to Russia and stopped issuing e-visas to Chinese citizens. Demand for face masks in Russia has risen thirteenfold over the past week.

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