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Why Your Free Soda Refills are Becoming Extinct

It's a move to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
Soda fountain spout

Restaurants are going to operate very differently in the post-pandemic world and at a few fast-food chains. And one staple device will be completely shut off: The self-serve soda dispensers.

According to the New York Post, some 15,000 Burger King, Popeye's, and Tim Horton's locations across North America will no longer allow customers to use the soda fountains, which means free refills may become a distant memory—at least for now.

"We have turned off our self-serve soda fountains and are offering beverages, extra condiments and trays from the behind the front counter," wrote Restaurant Brands' Chief Executive Jose Cil in an open letter on Tuesday.

In addition to the soda fountains being temporarily shut off, Restaurant Brands will require all staff to wear disposable face masks and gloves at all times. However, the company is looking into buying reusable (and arguably more comfortable) masks for workers to wear as a part of their permanent uniforms.

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In addition, employees at all of the chains listed above will be frequently sanitizing both tables and chairs after people sit at them.

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"We are working very hard to continue to build your confidence in the measures we are taking to keep you safe in our restaurants – so you can more quickly return to a sense of comfort and normalcy in bringing your family inside to sit down for a meal," Cil wrote.

Waffle House is another chain that has openly addressed the changes that will be apparent in-restaurant. For example, for those who wish to sit at the counter, plastic bags will be over the backs of four of the six stools. This will help customers who did not come together stay six feet apart from one another.

Another significant change will be the removal of placemat menus. Like stand-alone tables and booths, jukeboxes will also have to be regularly sanitized.

Dining won't be the same for a while, but chains and independent restaurants are following suit when it comes to taking necessary precautions for reopening. Here are some precautions you must take before going to a restaurant.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more