Coronavirus Prompts Some Starbucks Locations To Close Seating Areas

Coronavirus Prompts Some Starbucks Locations To Close Seating Areas

In an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and safeguard its employees, some Starbucks locations are closing seating areas and restricting service to mobile and drive-through orders, according to a Thursday (March 12) letter to stakeholders from Kevin Johnson, Starbucks CEO.

“This means that as we navigate this dynamic situation community-by-community and store-by-store, we may adapt the store experience by limiting seating to improve social distancing, enable mobile order-only scenarios for pickup via the Starbucks app or delivery via Uber Eats, or in some cases, only the drive-through will be open,” Johnson said in the letter.

Starbucks closed a Seattle store on March 5 after one of its baristas was diagnosed with the virus, but the cafe reopened the next day. Their 13 employees were self-quarantined. Johnson said that store closures should be a last resort as deemed necessary.

“We believe that the impacts to our business are temporary, and we also believe that by taking the long-term view and making a difference for all Starbucks stakeholders – our partners, customers, communities and shareholders – we continue to strengthen the resilience of Starbucks and build an enduring company,” the letter said.

The company noted that its China headquarters and regional support centers have been reopened, with the exception of the Wuhan support center in the Hubei province.

“At Starbucks, we believe it is our role and responsibility during this time to prioritize two things: the health and well-being of our customers and partners while also playing a constructive role in supporting local health officials and government leaders as they work to contain the virus,” the letter said.

Starbucks said on Wednesday (March 11) that it is offering “catastrophe pay” for up to 14 days to baristas who have been exposed to the virus.

In related news, Target and Kroger, along with other grocery chains, have been limiting the number of items, like disinfectants, that customers can buy in the wake of a shopping frenzy over coronavirus fears.