Starbucks to Require All Customers to Wear Masks Across the Country

The new safety protocol will begin on July 15

Starbucks is increasing its safety measures and will soon be requiring all customers to wear face coverings at its stores nationwide.

On Thursday, the coffee giant announced that beginning July 15, all customers visiting company-owned café locations in the U.S. will be required to wear a face covering if entering the store.

Patrons who are not wearing a mask will be directed to other pickup options, including ordering at a drive-thru, curbside pickup, mobile ordering, or placing an order for delivery.

"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," the company release read.

Starbucks' decision to enforce facial coverings was based on a number of factors, the company told PEOPLE in a statement.

"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 brand said.

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According to Business Insider, the updated protocol makes Starbucks the first national restaurant chain to require face coverings.

Other locations including Costco and Apple have announced mask policies, however, Starbucks is the first eatery to do so.

Last month, Starbucks made headlines when one of its baristas in California stood up to a woman who was not wearing a face mask.

After barista Lenin Gutierrez in San Diego refused to serve Amber Lynn Gilles because she did not have a face covering, the woman posted a photo of Gutierrez on Facebook, writing, "Meet lenen [sic] from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I'm not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption."

In the state of California, it is required that people wear masks in public, including restaurants and cafes.

Gutierrez received an outpour of support, and a GoFundMe campaign acting as a virtual tip jar for the barista has raised over $105,000 thus far.

"It's so shocking to see something get so big that only happened within a few minutes," Gutierrez said in a Facebook video.

In early June, the coffee chain announced that it is planning to close up to 400 stores and shift its focus to add locations that exclusively offer pick-up and to-go services, PEOPLE previously reported.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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