clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fast-Food Companies Are Finally Attempting to Provide Protective Gear for Employees

After multiple public protests from workers demanding face masks and other protections in light of COVID-19, restaurants like Taco Bell and McDonald’s are taking safety measures

A gloved employee’s hand handing a paper Taco Bell bag to a customer’s hands.
A Taco Bell employee wearing gloves hands an order to a customer at the drive-thru.
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Fast-food chains are now requiring workers to wear face masks

In the week and a half since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines recommending that everyone wear face masks in public to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, a growing number of fast-food chains have started requiring restaurant workers to wear masks. Yum Brands’ Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut are some of the latest chains to announce an updated personal protective equipment (PPE) policy. Workers will be supplied with single-use disposable gloves, and will be allowed to wear their own cloth masks until the company can source enough non-surgical-grade face masks to distribute to its restaurants. Yum Brands is also implementing temperature checks, and some KFC and Pizza Hut locations will install counter shields to create a barrier between workers and customers.

Other chains that have already changed their PPE policies include McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks, the outlet Restaurant Business reports. McDonald’s — which previously didn’t allow employees to wear PPE unless instructed to do so by a doctor, according to leaked internal documents obtained by Business Insider — has begun working to secure masks for its stores amid multiple employee protests. On March 31, more than 100 Florida workers participated in a walkout in part due to McDonald’s original mask policy. On April 9, hundreds of fast-food workers across California joined a strike to demand more PPE, hazard pay, and paid sick days from their employers.

As more cities and states issue orders requiring essential workers to wear masks — and requiring employers to supply them — we can expect to see chains scramble to change their PPE policies and source equipment for their employees. If only more companies had listened to their workers’ pleas for protection from the beginning.

And in other news…

  • Smithfield Foods is closing its pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D. — one of the largest meat processing plants in the nation — until further notice, after hundreds of employees tested positive for the coronavirus. [AP]
  • At least 41 grocery workers have died of COVID-19, with thousands more testing positive for the virus. [Washington Post]
  • Amazon has stopped accepting new grocery delivery customers, instead putting them on a waitlist, as demand surges during this pandemic. [Reuters]
  • Samuel Adams launched a fund offering $1,000 grants to restaurant workers whose jobs have been impacted by coronavirus-related closures. [CNN]
  • Seven people went to Santa Cruz for “essential” drinks, the worst-ever justification for gathering during a pandemic. They were fined $1,000 each for violating shelter-in-place guidelines. [CNN]
  • Amy Schumer is teaming up with her chef husband, Chris Fischer, to host a quarantine cooking show for Food Network. [Grub Street]
  • The British tradition of pub quiz is going online in the social distancing era. [The Atlantic]

All AM Intel Coverage [E]

Sign up for the Sign up for the Eater newsletter

The freshest news from the food world every day