Starbucks is prepared to "modify operations" in stores amid coronavirus

Mar 11 2020, 8:10 pm

It has been one week since Starbucks released an open letter updating its partners and customers across North America about what precautionary steps it was taking to prevent the spreading of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in their stores.

Now, the global coffee chain’s CEO and President, Kevin Johnson, has published a second open letter to Starbucks customers.

In the statement, Johnson wrote that the company’s biggest concern was the health and well-being of its customers and partners (employees) and that in addition to the increased cleaning and sanitizing procedures in stores, the company is doing more to prepare.

“We have also prepared our stores to respond quickly to any emerging situation, leveraging the considerable insights we’ve gained from our experience in China, where we continue to see encouraging signs of recovery with over 90% of stores reopened,” wrote Johnson.

Johnson said customers’ Starbucks experiences in the Canada and the US “may look different as we navigate through this time together.”

While the chain is currently maintaining regular operations across North America, the letter stated that stores are prepared to “modify operations” if need be.

This includes potentially “limiting seating to improve social distancing, enable mobile order-only scenarios for the pickup via the Starbucks App or delivery via Uber Eats, or in some cases, only the Drive Thru will be open.”

Johnson said that as a last resort, the company would decide to close a store “if we feel it is in the best interest of our customers and partners, or if we are directed to do so by government authorities.”

“In any such situation, we expect store disruption to be temporary,” he wrote.

Johnson also noted this would be decided as the brand navigates the situation community-by-community and store-by-store.

When it comes to its employees, in addition to its sick leave benefit and mental health offerings, Starbucks will be expanding its catastrophe pay “so that partners do not need to feel like they need to choose between their health and their work.”