McDonald’s to require masks at restaurants, delays reopenings another month

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By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz Chicago Tribune (TNS)

CHICAGO — McDonald’s will require customers to wear face coverings at its restaurants, joining other large businesses that are tightening rules as COVID-19 cases mount across the country.

The fast food giant also said Friday that it will delay for another 30 days the reopening of dining rooms that remain closed.

McDonald’s will offer masks to customers who don’t have one. If a customer declines to wear one, their order will be expedited and they will be guided to a designated pickup spot a safe distance from other customers.

Nearly 82% of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are in states or areas that require facial coverings for customers, including Illinois, but “it’s important we protect the safety of all employees and customers,” the company said.

There is no federal mask mandate and some local governments have not imposed one.

Conflicts have arisen as employees confront customers who refuse to wear masks. McDonald’s employees will be trained to address those situations, and the company “will re-share resources for our and our franchisees’ employees who want to revisit de-escalation training,” the company said.

A growing number of businesses are requiring shoppers to wear masks, including Walmart and Home Depot, as public health officials determine it is key to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. The U.S. on Friday reported more than 72,000 cases of COVID-19, including 1,113 deaths.

“The latest science suggests droplets have the potential to stay in the air for extended periods of time, increasing the risk of virus spread, especially from asymptomatic carriers,” McDonald’s said in explaining its decision. “As a result, the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reiterates face coverings are an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The company on July 1 announced a three-week pause to dining room openings as COVID-19 cases climbed. At the time, about 2,200 McDonald’s dining rooms were already open.

McDonald’s also has developed a series of divider panels for its restaurants and kitchens to be able to increase staffing levels, order taking and seating capacity while maintaining social distancing requirements.

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