In places deemed to have a significant COVID-19 transmission rate, McDonald’s will require both employees and patrons to wear masks.
The company is the largest national chain to reinstate a mask requirement. The decision follows the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) announcement two weeks ago that even fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a briefing on July 27, “In rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others … This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”
The fast-food chain had dropped the mask requirement for fully vaccinated individuals in May.
“McDonald’s confirmed the move to USA TODAY Monday, a year after it started requiring masks nationwide at its 14,000 restaurants nationwide. The company said the change in policy was in response to the CDC guidance and for all customers and crew, regardless of vaccination status,” per USA Today.
McDonald’s was not the only company to change its previously relaxed mask policies after the CDC’s announcement. Apple will require staff and customers to wear masks in all 270 of its stores regardless of their vaccination status. The change went into effect on July 29. Apple already requires corporate workers to wear masks in the office when they return in October.
The president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), Brian Dodge, said in a statement “As the virus changes, variants spread, and vaccine hesitancy in some populations continues, retailers understand that CDC guidance may evolve and masks may be necessary again in some circumstances.”
He warned customers that more changes may come during the next few weeks.
RILA represents Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, and other major retail chains, noted CNBC.
So far, “Minneapolis-based Target said Monday that, starting August 3, it will require all store workers in counties that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says face a ‘substantial or high risk of transmission’ to wear face coverings. The big-box retailer, which has more than 1,900 stores, also said it will continue recommending that customers wear masks in its locations, but stopped short of requiring face coverings,” reports CBS News.
As of last week, 1,495 counties met the CDC’s requirements of highest transmission areas while 548 counties were labeled ‘substantial’ transmission areas. According to CNBC, two-thirds of the U.S. population live in these regions — or a combined 225 million people.