List of local retailers requiring face coverings grows

A McDonald’s employee takes an order from a customer wearing a mask during the ongoing pandemic.

McDonald’s in Huntington will join the list of stores requiring patrons to wear masks in stores beginning August 1.

While the current executive order issued by Governor Eric Holcomb runs through at least Aug. 26 depending on whether or not Gov. Holcomb chooses to extend the mask mandate, all customers will be required to wear face masks in McDonald’s stores until further notice.

In an effort to protect the health and well-being of employees and customers, McDonald’s President Joe Erlinger and National Franchise Leadership Alliance Chair Mark Salebra say all stores will require customer face coverings in restaurants beginning Aug. 1.

“This public health crisis continues, with one million new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks alone. At the same time we’re learning more” a statement from Erlinger and Salebra says. “The latest science suggests droplets have the potential to stay in the air for extended periods of time, increasing the risk of virus spread, especially from asymptomatic carriers. As a result, the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reiterates face coverings are an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

While nearly 82 percent of McDonald’s restaurants are in states or localities that require facial coverings, the chain is requiring face masks in all areas to protect the safety of all employees and customers.

“The intent of this policy is to take a proactive approach and focus on quickly finding solutions when customers are unable or unwilling to wear a face covering. In those situations where a customer declines to wear a face covering, we’ll put in place additional procedures to take care of them in a friendly, expedited way,” the statement says.

Mayor Richard Strick shared his support for businesses, both local and national retailers, who are mandating masks for customers in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

“These are all national retailers present in our community who are now mandating that their customers wear masks when they’re in the stores. I get that it’s an inconvenience, it’s frustrating. At the same time we recognize that this is something essential in gaining ground in the public health fight against COVID-19,” Strick said. “It requires a tremendous amount of responsibility from each of us in this. Now there’s local stores as well, that in their prerogative as business owners, that are also going to require customers to wear masks. And so we encourage everyone to cooperate.”

It has now been more than four months since Gov. Holcomb called for all non-essential travel to cease when the COVID-19 outbreak began in Indiana. Since then, the state continues to work toward reopening. For the next month, Hoosiers will be required to wear masks in public spaces, and by the end of that time the pandemic will have lasted around 5 months.

“No one wants to be doing this right now, but it’s important for each of us to take this small step and a few others so that we can gain ground on this,” Strick said. “The closer we are to gaining ground on this, the better we get at beating these numbers, the more likely it is and the earlier it is that we can return to some version of normal.”

Other Huntington stores with mask mandates for customers include: Starbucks, TCB Games, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Owens, ALDI and Verizon.