McDonald’s pause on reopening U.S. dining rooms will continue for another 30 days as coronavirus cases continue to surge in some parts of the country.
The company will also require customers to wear face coverings, starting Aug. 1, and will add protective panels in its restaurants to allow franchisees to increase order taking, seating capacity and staffing levels.
McDonald’s joins other large retailers and restaurant companies, like Walmart, Kroger and Starbucks, in requiring customers to wear masks across all U.S. locations.
U.S. President Joe Erlinger and National Franchise Leadership Alliance Chair Mark Salebra said in an open letter to McDonald’s U.S. system that nearly 82% of its restaurants are in states or localities that require facial coverings for both employees and customers.
Employees, who will receive extra training to handle customers who do not want to wear masks, are supposed to offer those customers a mask. If the customer declines, an employee will guide them to a designated pick-up spot at a safe distance from other customers, and the order will be expedited.
“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,” Erlinger and Salebra wrote. “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.”
The protective panels are yet another safety measure for its restaurants. Erlinger and Salebra said in the letter that they are not intended to replace personal protective equipment or adherence to social distancing.
The fast-food chain first paused dining room reopenings on July 1 for three weeks amid a surge of coronavirus cases. About 15% of McDonald’s 14,000 locations had reopened their dining rooms at that point. Franchisees who already reopened dining rooms and are not facing any rollbacks from local officials can decide if they want to keep them open.
Shares of McDonald’s, which has a market value of $152 billion, are nearly flat so far this year. The company is expected to report its second-quarter results on Tuesday.