Starbucks Just Announced An Important Change For Its Walk-In Customers

There may be no nationwide mandate to wear a mask from the federal government or the CDC, but with COVID-19 cases hitting new highs across the country every day, Starbucks seems to have decided that it no longer wants to take any chances with the virus. Beginning July 15, the popular coffee chain says it will require customers who want to come into the shop to wear masks, and those who don't want to wear a mask are invited to order takeout instead, from the drive-thru, curbside pickup, or to have their order delivered. The policy will apply to all Starbucks coffee shops across the country (via CNN).

Seeing masks worn around in Starbucks isn't new because the chain began requiring its staff to wear masks as far back as April, and it isn't the first company to require everyone inside their store premises to wear a mask, either (via USA Today). When Costco reopened after the lockdown, it required all staff and guests who were going to shop at the store to wear masks, prompting calls from angry members to boycott the warehouse store

Starbucks feels the mask rule is essential

Starbucks' decision to require all patrons to wear masks goes above and beyond what some cities and states have required of their citizens during the pandemic, but it appears the coffee chain doesn't have much choice. Data gathered by Johns Hopkins University shows that the U.S. now accounts for around 25 percent of the total number of the 12 million coronavirus cases worldwide — and the number of cases keeps rising (via The Wall Street Journal). The CDC has only "recommended" the use of face coverings to prevent the asymptomatic spread of the disease.

The measure isn't likely to be too popular with some customers, because wearing masks is now seen as a political issue. In places where local rules demand masks in public areas, Starbucks baristas have had to face angry customers who are upset with the mandates. "I fully expected one woman to throw her drink at me," a barista told The Wall Street Journal. "I didn't sign on for this. I don't like not feeling safe at work."

The mask rule will apply to the more than 8,900 Starbucks-owned stores across the country. There are an additional 6,350 Starbucks coffee houses which are being operated under a license agreement, but the company says these franchises will be able to decide whether the mask rule should be implemented for themselves.