The iconic fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger has informed employees in five states that they will no longer be allowed to wear medical masks unless they have a note from their doctor, according to a company memo leaked on Twitter earlier this month.
“We are introducing new mask guidelines that emphasizes the importance of customer service and the ability to show our Associates’ smiles and other facial features while considering the health and well-being of all individuals,” the memo reads.
The new rule goes into effect on August 14, according to the memo, and is aimed at workers in Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. Workers in California and Oregon who would like to protect themselves from COVID-19 and other illnesses by wearing a medical mask will still be allowed to, the L.A. Times reported.
In-N-Out employees who have a “specific medical condition or health concern that requires them to wear a mask” will have to provide a “valid medical note” to their store supervisor, though they will not be required to disclose their medical diagnosis or other “confidential medical information,” the memo states.
Employees who are given permission to wear a mask will be required to wear a company-provided N-95, the memo added.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Judy Stone took to Twitter to criticize the burger chain, saying “their new anti-mask policy” goes against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 recommendations and puts employees at risk.
It’s not the first time In-N-Out Burger has been criticized for its stance on COVID-19 recommendations.
In Oct. 2021, the fast-food restaurant refused to comply with Contra Costa County’s mandate that employees check the vaccination status of customers who planned to eat indoors. Instead, In-N-Out closed all five of its area dining rooms and only served food from the drive-through window.
“As a Company, In-N-Out Burger strongly believes in the highest form of customer service and to us that means serving all Customers who visit us and making all Customers feel welcome,” Arnie Wensinger, the chain’s chief legal and business officer, said in a statement at the time. “We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government.”