It can be downright confusing. For example, suppose you are driving through a Starbucks for coffee and then meet a chain of bakery and cafe for your breakfast pastries. Perhaps you will drive past a national fast food franchise for lunch, then be picked up from your favorite restaurant on the roadside for dinner.
All employees you come into contact with are food service employees. While some of them wear protective face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19, others don’t.
“We don’t need it,” said Dr. Cort Lohff, director of the residency program in the Southern Nevada Health District.
However, this statement has one caveat.
“We recommend them, based on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) statements that wearing face coverings can be a way of reducing the transmission of the coronavirus,” said Lohff. “Especially the people who carry the virus but may not be symptomatic.”
Dr. Shadaba Asad, Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at University Medical Center, confirmed that the use of masks is not mandatory for food service workers in southern Nevada, saying that any recommendation to wear them has nothing to do with their profession.
“I think everyone should wear cloth masks,” Asad said. “One way to protect yourself at a time like this is to have your entire public wear some kind of face covering so that the person who is speaking or breathing cannot release the particles into the air around them.”
In short, a mask is not supposed to protect you from the virus, but rather to protect others from the virus, as many people are carriers but have no symptoms.
Washoe County’s health district officer Kevin Dick said Friday that he contacted Governor Steve Sisolak’s office after speaking to members of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce who are concerned that masks are not being worn by essential service personnel in order to inquire about these face coverings must be made compulsory for these workers.
A spokeswoman for the governor’s office did not return a request for comment on Monday. Neither was a spokeswoman for the Southern Nevada Health District.
Some local restaurants do not currently require masks.
McDonald’s corporate headquarters announced on its website last week that it had received 100 million masks to be distributed across the chain. A local franchisee WBF Management employee who refused to be named said last week that while the masks had been made available to employees, they were not mandatory.
During a Monday visit to a Henderson McDonald’s, only one of two employees a customer contacted wore a mask.
Other restaurants take a tougher line.
“We are following the CDC’s recommendations that all team members wear protective face covers while on the job,” said Jenny Gidge, vice president of operations at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Las Vegas, adding that the requirement extends to third party delivery drivers . Party services.
“I insist,” said Liam Dwyer, chef and owner of 7th & Carson Downtown. “If it saves lives, I’m all about it.”
“Everyone has the mask and gloves,” said Donald Lemperle, head chef and owner of VegeNation in downtown and in Henderson. “It’s important that we show guests that we are wearing them for safety and that we understand so that we can calm their thoughts.”
Players Locker in Downtown Summerlin is the only local member of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group that offers take away and delivery. Tom Kaplan, the group’s senior managing partner, said employees must wear masks and he wears one when he goes to the restaurant.
“Everything we do, we want to be done by medical experts, not politicians, not television doctors,” said Kaplan.
According to Gidge, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf employees were each given a fabric mask with a coffee filter insert and instructions on how to make their own if they wanted a different one.
“You have to take the masks home and wash them every day,” she said. “That’s why we showed them how to make their own masks.” She said staff were instructed to wash their hands before putting on their masks and not to wear them to the bathroom.
“These are new times that nobody is used to,” she said, “so I think we should take extra precautions when we are in the food industry.”
Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at [email protected] or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter. Capital reporter Bill Dentzer contributed to this story.