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The surprise reopening of a KFC restaurant caused hours of chaos on Lancashire roads, with police called, queues stretching miles and eventually a decision being taken by the restaurant to close again.
The fried chicken chain this week reopened 55 of its drive-through sites – some of them without warning – leading to lengthy traffic jams across the UK.
Preston is home to the UK’s first ever KFC, which opened in 1965. Like other restaurants, it was shut as the government put Britain in coronavirus lockdown in March – but the doors of a nearby drive-through branch were quietly unlocked on Tuesday.
Although it hadn’t appeared on a list of reopened sites, word spread rapidly and people reported motorists driving the wrong way around the roundabout near the KFC to escape the traffic congestion it caused.
One witness wrote on social media: “Avoid docks in Preston. KFC has re opened and the queues are crazy – people going wrong way round roundabout to get out of way. Frigging mental.”
Another person said: “Absolutely ridiculous! That desperate for fried chicken?! Are people’s cooking skills so bad?”
Others say getting hold of fast food chicken is not an “essential journey” and people should not be breaking coronavirus lockdown rules to do so.
One person living in Preston said: “And this is why lockdown will be delayed due to morons like this queuing up for bloody chicken.”
The scenes in Preston were so disorderly that some police were called. A Lancashire Constabulary spokesperson said: “We were made aware of there being traffic issues in the area at around 5pm on Tuesday.
“We attended but we did not tell KFC to close. It looks like the decision was taken by KFC to close the restaurant because of the traffic chaos.”
Similar scenes were reported with massive queues seen outside KFC branches including in Wales and Basingstoke.
A KFC spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “We want to make sure we’re opening our drive-thrus as responsibly as possible for our team members and our fans.
“It’s clear from the demand that the people of Preston have missed their local KFC, and because of that, last night we needed to work with the local police to quickly get the queue back under control with help from our traffic marshals.
“We’re reminding everyone that delivery remains the best way to get your fried chicken fix unless you’re already on an essential journey.”