Chipotle, McDonald’s and Starbucks Just Earned Top Honors for COVID-19 Safety Measures

The best fast-food chains offer hand sanitizer, contactless payment and other COVID-19 safety precautions.

Remembering fast food in a pre-COVID world feels like imagining an alternate universe—one where no one stands six feet apart, where face masks are primarily used in hospitals and, of course, you can eat in the restaurant.

But right now, we don’t live in that world, and some chains are better at taking the right precautions. The market research company Ipsos employed mystery shoppers to see what places follow recommended safety measures. Here’s a look at three popular fast-food chains that exceeded expectations.


If you can’t get enough of the new almond milk cold foam at Starbucks, rest assured that you can order safely. The coffee shop ranked third in Ipsos’ survey, because employees at 93% of locations wore masks and 83% offered contactless payment options.

This nurse explains why it’s important to wear a mask at the grocery store and in other public settings.


Craving a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese? Same. You’re probably safe to head to McD’s; they ranked second in the survey. Ipsos says 95% of the restaurants visited had plexiglass barriers at checkout and service counters, as well as various paths marked off to guide customer traffic.

It’s safe to use the restroom, too, since 87% of McDonald’s locations had motion-activated fixtures like sinks and hand dryers.


Chipotle comes in at #1 here, with Ipsos noting that most employees wore masks (at 90% of locations) and gloves (at 83% of locations). About half of the restaurants had hand sanitizer available for customers when they walked in, too. Honestly, this makes us want to order a burrito with chips and guac on the side.

Psst: The same research company did a COVID-19 safety study on grocery stores.

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Emily Hannemann
Emily adores both food and writing, so combining those passions as a writer for Taste of Home makes perfect sense. Her work has also appeared in Birds & Blooms and on TV Insider. When she’s not eating peanut butter straight from the jar, you'll find her running or birdwatching. Emily is currently a journalism graduate student at the University of Missouri.