McDonald's Will Now Require Masks at Every U.S. Location

If you've got a craving for a Big Mac, you're going to need a mask.

McDonald's mask
NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images

Experts continue to say that one of the best ways to stem the tidal wave of coronavirus cases in the United States is wearing a mask (and continued social distancing). The US has passed four million total cases -- one million coming in the last two weeks alone -- so it's not surprising that states have begun to reimplement policies aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. Mask mandates have been a big part of that, whether it's statewide mandates, local businesses trying to protect employees, or massive chains like Walmart and Target

McDonald's is belatedly joining the wave of businesses requiring masks. In an announcement made on Friday, July 24, McDonald's said customers in all US restaurants will be required to wear face coverings starting August 1. (The company's statement does not detail why it believes the pandemic is bad enough to require masks, but will wait nine days to enforce the policy.) The fast food pillar will also add "protective panels to front- and back-of-house," and it will be "pausing dining room re-openings for an additional 30 days."

The company reiterated the CDC's guidance that masks are effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19. It also stated that 82% of its restaurants are already in states or localities that require face coverings for employees and customers. The additional 18% is important, but the vast majority of McDonald's locations were already abiding by this guidance from the golden arch headquarters. 

McDonald's did not specify how it plans to handle customers who refuse to comply, but said there is a plan. That's a much different approach than a company like United Airlines, which has detailed its plans for customers who refuse to wear masks, the final step being a ban from the airline. "In those situations where a customer declines to wear a face covering," the McDonald's statement says, "we'll put in place additional procedures to take care of them in a friendly, expedited way. Additionally, we will provide training for our restaurant staff to ensure they are prepared to address this new policy in a friendly and positive way."

The need for a policy isn't a "just in case" situation. Employees at businesses across the country -- including McDonald's -- have been verbally and physically abused for trying to enforce mask policies.

The pause on reopening dining rooms does not shut any dining rooms that have already re-opened. Unless it is determined locally that those dining rooms must be closed, it appears any that are open will remain open. 

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.