Starting July 15, Starbucks will be requiring all customers to wear masks or facial coverings when ordering inside its cafes, regardless of current local or state guidelines.
"The company is committed to playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Starbucks stated in a press release posted Thursday. The rule applies to all cafes throughout the country and the policy has no end date.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended "wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain" because "the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms."
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While government protocols have fluctuated in response to COVID-19, most states are currently enforcing the CDC's advice by creating local mandates. As of Thursday, Alaska, Idaho, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin are recommending that residents wear masks (but it is not required). Iowa, Montana and Oklahoma do not have any guidelines requiring residents to wear masks in public.
In states that do not impose mask-wearing in public, Starbucks will have other ordering options. Customers without face coverings may order at the drive-thru, opt for curbside pickup through the Starbucks app or place an order for delivery through Starbucks Delivers.
On Twitter, Starbucks was met with praise from many for its consideration of people's health during the global pandemic. Some promised to even wear their masks at drive-thrus out of respect for employees.
Some said the policy couldn't come soon enough.
However, the chain also incurred some backlash from people who said they believed the policy infringes on their rights.
This isn't the first incident in which Starbucks and other restaurant employees across the country have faced criticism and abuse over newly instated mask-wearing policies.
On June 22, a barista in San Diego was publicly berated in person and on social media by a customer who was infuriated at his request that she adhere to the city's face-covering requirement inside the cafe. The customer, Amber Lynn Gilles, faced backlash to her Facebook post detailing her experience. Gilles further fueled commenters by responding to some of the messages. "Masks are stupid and so are the people wearing them," she wrote in one post, which has since been deleted.
The outpouring of support for the barista culminated with over $30,000 in tips donated to him through a GoFundMe account.