WASHINGTON — McDonald's will require all customers to wear masks when entering any of the company's U.S. restaurants, beginning August 1.
"The intent of this policy is to take a proactive approach and focus on quickly finding solutions when customers are unable or unwilling to wear a face covering," McDonald's said Friday in a statement. "In those situations where a customer declines to wear a face covering, we’ll put in place additional procedures to take care of them in a friendly, expedited way."
McDonald's says 82% of its U.S. restaurants are located in states or localities that already require face coverings. McDonald's says Friday's announcement will help "protect the safety of all employees and customers."
In addition to requiring masks, McDonald's also announced owner and operators can request protective panels for both the front- and back-of-house. The company said these panels will allow for restaurants to "increase order taking and seating capacity, as well as staffing levels, while continuing to meet social distancing guidelines."
McDonald's also said it will put a pause on reopening dining rooms for another 30 days.
The fast-food chain joins a growing list of restaurants and retailers requiring face coverings.
In areas where COVID-19 is spreading, health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say that wearing masks or other face coverings in public helps reduce the risk of spreading the virus when people can’t socially distance by staying 6 feet apart.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The United States has more than 4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.
Just after 1:00 p.m. EDT Friday, the country had more than 144,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Worldwide, there are more than 15 million confirmed cases with more than 634,000 deaths.