After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the loosening of mask mandates last week, businesses like grocery stores and restaurant chains started easing off their mask rules for fully vaccinated customers. Quick-service giants Starbucks and Chipotle are among the first restaurant chains to drop the mask requirements in their locations.
Starbucks updated its website over the weekend and announced that masks are now optional for fully vaccinated customers at their stores, except in places where local regulations require mask-wearing. However, the chain's employees will still be required to wear multi-ply facial coverings, aka double masks.
Similarly, Chipotle said vaccinated customers will no longer need to wear masks at the chain's restaurants.
"We will continue to require our employees to wear masks," Laurie Schalow, Chipotle's chief corporate affairs officer, told Restaurant Business. "However, fully vaccinated guests do not need to wear a mask inside of Chipotle restaurants, except where required by local regulations."
The CDC's announcement that fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor scenarios puts restaurants into a difficult position. Some businesses, including fast-food giant McDonald's, plan on keeping their mask requirements at the risk of angering their customers, according to Restaurant Business.
An owner of two Irish pubs in Seattle told the publication: "We just don't know what to do. It's kind of a rough one. We know that people who aren't vaccinated are going to say they're vaccinated."
As of today, 37.7% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, with East Coast states leading the pack, according to NPR.
For more on the new mask-wearing mandates, check out:
A list of all the major retailers that no longer require masks.
An explanation of the new mask rules from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.
Why some Costco customers are angry about the newly-lifted mask rules.
All the food freebies you can get as a vaccinated customer at fast-food restaurants.
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