The big move fast food companies are finally making to keep people safe

Last month, when the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic started to make itself felt throughout the U.S., fast food restaurants nationwide closed their dining rooms and limited their service to takeout, drive-thru, and delivery only. While these policies may have protected customers from close proximity to one another, fast food workers are still out there on the frontlines being exposed to all manner of germs.

Is it any wonder that these workers, who are busier than ever at a time when many others are able to work from home, would wish to wear protective gear to keep as safe as they possibly can? Many of their employers, however, felt otherwise, and discouraged employees from wearing face masks at work. Business Insider revealed that McDonald's employees in Florida even went on strike to protest the mask prohibition and other safety hazards, as they felt McDonald's should be doing more to keep them safe on the job (which the company is now doing, to some extent).

Well, in light of the CDC's new recommendation that we all wear some type of protective face covering when out in public, fast food chains are having to do a lightning-quick about-face on their mask policy.

Fast food chains are finally permitting workers to wear protective gear

Restaurant Business reports that chains belonging to Yum Brands, including Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and The Habit Burger Grill are now requiring employees to wear non-surgical face masks, and are at present permitting them to wear their own cloth masks while the restaurants scramble to source enough masks to supply every worker. They are also providing single-use disposable gloves that are to be worn in addition to hand-washing and sanitizing. Restaurant Business also indicated that McDonald's is now sourcing protective masks to supply to workers deployed in what it considers to be COVID-19 "hot spots," and Starbucks may be sourcing masks as well. Chick-fil-A is not only allowing its workers to wear masks, but has also installed hand-washing stations for the protection of its workers who are stationed at the outdoor pickup areas.

While these new policies are a step in the right direction, there's some uncertainty regarding the availability of sufficient protective gear for all fast food workers. What's more, as a recent New York Times editorial pointed out, fast food workers are one of the most at-risk groups for contracting coronavirus, and yet one of the least able to afford time off work. Providing protective gear is a step in the right direction, but Business Insider points out that we all need to do our part to keep fast food workers safe, such as paying via contact-free app (never cash!), keeping our distance, or, best of all, staying home and cooking our own food.