McDonald’s will require customers inside all of its U.S. restaurants to wear masks or face coverings beginning Aug. 1.
The massive fast-food chain announced the decision Friday in a company letter, framing it as a necessary step in the nationwide effort to check the spread of COVID-19.
The company said it would also install protective panels throughout its dining and cooking areas, and said it has delayed reopening dining rooms for an additional 30 days.
“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,” the letter, co-authored by McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger, reads. “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.
“To that end, and in order to protect the safety of our employees and customers, we will ask all customers to wear face coverings when entering our US restaurants effective August 1.”
The company said that in the event a customer decides not to wear a facial covering, it will have procedures in place “to take care of them in a friendly, expedited way,” and that it will make resources available for employees “who want to revisit de-escalation training.”
That de-escalation might be called for is not an abstract possibility. Earlier this month, Maria Resendiz, a 19-year-old McDonald’s employee in Oakland, California, was physically assaulted by a drive-thru customer after she told him masks were required at the location.
Resendiz’s injuries required treatment at a nearby hospital. She said the assailant also aimed a string of racial slurs at her.
“I get it about the situation we’re in with COVID and that people are stressed but that’s not an excuse for workers at fast food restaurants to risk their lives,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’re not burgers and fries. We’re humans. Two McDoubles and a small fries, that’s not something that’s worth getting injured over.”
A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus
Where To Buy Cloth Face Masks For Coronavirus Online
The Psychology Behind Why Some People Refuse To Wear Face Masks
Trump: U.S. In ‘Very Good Shape’ On Coronavirus Unless ‘You Look South And West’
Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.