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In-N-Out Says No Masks to Employees in Five States

In-N-Out, a California-based burger restaurant chain, announced that it intends to prohibit employees from wearing masks unless they have a doctor's note. Beginning August 14, the chain's Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah restaurants will operate under the new guidelines to "emphasize the importance of service and the ability to show our Associates' smiles and other facial features." Employees with a doctor's note justifying their need to wear a mask may only wear company-provided N-95 masks. Employees failing to follow the policy may face discipline, including termination, "based on the severity and frequency of the violation." Some employees took to Reddit to complain about the new policy.

These new guidelines are not the chain's first attention-grabbing decision regarding COVID-19. In October 2021, In-N-Out closed its San Francisco location temporarily because the restaurant refused to comply with the city's mandate to check the vaccine status of all patrons. The new no-mask rules do not apply to California and Oregon employees. California's COVID-19 workplace regulations currently allow workers to decide for themselves whether to wear face coverings. Approximately 70% of In-N-Out's locations are in California. Oregon has similar protections in place for employees. An infectious disease expert publicly protested the chain's new rule on Twitter, asserting it violates the Centers for Disease Control's recommendations and puts employees in danger.