(SEATTLE) — BY: KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News
As cafes, restaurants and businesses continue to navigate the throes of the pandemic under guidance from top health officials, Starbucks announced that all customers will soon be required to wear masks at all of its U.S. locations.
The Seattle-based coffee chain announced Thursday that beginning on July 15, it will require “customers to wear facial coverings while visiting all company-owned cafe locations in the U.S.”
“This decision was based on a growing number of government mandates requiring individuals to wear facial coverings while in public as well as guidance from the CDC and other public health officials and partner feedback,” a representative for the company told ABC News in a statement.
Starbucks explained that customers who “may not be wearing a facial covering” at locations where a local government mandate is not in place, will have other ways to place orders.
Where applicable, customers not wearing a mask can order via drive-thru, curbside pickup through the Starbucks app or place an order for delivery through Starbucks Delivers.
“The company is committed to playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Starbucks said in the release.
The news comes on the heels of the ongoing debate over wearing a mask, which has become both politically charged and filled with confusion.
Early in the COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government officials discouraged Americans from wearing masks, saying they were unlikely to help stop the spread of the virus, according to the best evidence at the time.
But as evidence accumulated, the CDC made an abrupt about-face on April 3, encouraging all Americans to don face coverings to slow transmission of the virus, which was largely believed to be spread through respiratory droplets.
Now, more than six months into the pandemic, experts say there is enough evidence to conclude masks are critical in mitigating COVID-19 spread.
ABC News’ Dr. Ayodola Adigun, Dr. Alexis E. Carrington, Dr. Stephanie E. Farber, Dr. Jessica Johnson and Sony Salzman contributed to this report.
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