In-N-Out Bans Masks for Staff in Most Stores, Excludes California Locations

In-N-Out Bans Masks for Staff in Most Stores, Excludes California Locations
A new location for an In N Out restaurant in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Puzhen Su
The West Coast fast food chain In-N-Out Burger recently announced its intention to prohibit masking for its employees unless they receive a doctor’s note, according to a leaked memo and an official statement by In-N-Out’s Chief Operating Officer Denny Warnick.

According to the statement by Mr. Warnick, the company reasons that “wearing a mask literally adds a barrier to communication—much of which is nonverbal—and promotes a more distant and disconnected environment.”

Despite this, the leaked memo states that those who need masks for medical reasons are allowed to “wear a company-provided N95 mask.” Additionally, employees “who are required to wear masks or other protective gear as part of their job duties” are exempt, the memo states.

Failure to comply with the new standards could even lead to termination of employment in the most egregious of examples.

This new set of guidelines is set to go into effect on Aug. 14 in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah.

Notably, two other states that In-N-Out operates in—California and Oregon—are excluded from the new mandate. In-N-Out workers in these states are still allowed to wear company-provided masks to work.

In-N-Out declined to provide further information on the policy to The Epoch Times.

The new policy was first leaked by likeminded Twitter user “luckytran,” igniting a media firestorm. In response to the news, many took to Twitter to express their disagreement with the policy.

Twitter user “DrJudyStone” made her dissatisfaction clear, reposting an article with the hashtags #CovidIsAirborne and #CovidIsNotOver. She stated that she is an infectious disease expert and that the new mandate endangers the health of employees and also violates CDC guidelines.
This move by In-N-Out follows in the wake of the receding COVID-19 pandemic. Three months ago, the head of the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 was no longer a public health emergency, and most of the nation has consequently returned to pre-pandemic normalcy, though some precautions remain. By this stage, most states and counties have made masks optional.

In-N-Out’s new policy re-exposed the pandemic-era mask divides. Some have suggested that masks are “safe and effective” against COVID-19, while others have argued the polar opposite.

Some research has also indicated that prolonged mask-wearing during the pandemic led to health effects including itching, headaches, and restriction of oxygen. Since the pandemic, researchers have questioned the efficacy of masking.
A study by The Cochrane Library states: “The pooled results of RCTs (Randomized Controlled Trials) did not show a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection with the use of medical/surgical masks. There were no clear differences between the use of medical/surgical masks compared with N95/P2 respirators in healthcare workers when used in routine care to reduce respiratory viral infection.”

Others, like the CDC and Anthony Fauci, former chief medical advisor to the president of the United States, argued throughout the pandemic for the use of masks.

The fast-food chain is no stranger to controversy regarding the COVID-19 pandemic; the company is known for pushing back against pandemic regulations. In one instance, an In-N-Out location in Contra Costa County, California, was shut down for declining to ask patrons for proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test. It was re-opened later for drive-through and takeout service.

“The Pleasant Hill In-N-Out location received four citations in recent weeks and fines totaling $1,750, all for the same health order violation, before today’s action,” Contra Costa Environmental Health said in a statement.

A similar incident occurred in a San Francisco location, where vaccination status was not enforced.

Puzhen is a reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and he covers Northern California news.
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