Operations

Survey shows most chain restaurants are requiring staffs to wear masks

The finding suggests the industry’s reputation for lax enforcement may be the fault of non-complying independents.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The restaurant industry as a whole is being demonized by government officials for failing to enforce staff face-masking requirements and other anti-COVID safety measures, but a new survey suggests that independent establishments may be the chronic laggards.

The canvass of 300 operators, most of them chain affiliated, found that 96% of the respondents are requiring their unit-level teams to wear masks. The survey was conducted by Black Box Intelligence, a research company that provides sales benchmarks and trends to the chain sector.

That number is far higher than what many jurisdictions have found in spot-checks of local operations. Billionaire Mark Cuban commissioned a check of Texas restaurants right after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott allowed restaurants to reopen dining rooms at limited capacities. The check of 1,300 service establishments by the staffing company ShiftSmart found that only about 20% of restaurants and retail outlets were having employees wear masks.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association has acknowledged that 50% of its members oppose mask requirements, though it says that the opponents are observing new mandates such as the one recently imposed by Milwaukee.

Black Box also found that 71% of its chain-heavy surveyed group also mandate that employees wear gloves, and 86% are taking tables out of service in reopened dining rooms to keep parties at least six feet apart. In addition, 77% of the queried operators are taking employees’ temperatures before letting the workers begin their shifts, and 57% have installed plexiglass barriers between tables or booths.

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