Starbucks Considering Limiting Orders to Mobile-Only or Drive-Thru Due to Coronavirus Conditions

Starbucks said it is considering limiting orders to mobile-only or drive-thrus due to coronavirus fears in a letter to consumers Thursday. The company said it will consider different options for each community and store. In a separate letter to employees, Starbucks said it will expand "catastrophe pay" for any employee diagnosed with COVID-19 or exposed to someone with the disease.

At the moment, Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada are operating normal hours, but the company is willing to make changes "community-by-community and store-by-store." These might include limiting seating to improve "social distancing," so people could sit further apart from one another.

Another option is only allowing customers to put in orders through the Starbucks App for pickup or delivery through Uber Eats. Some stores might close completely, save for the drive-thru window.

"As a last resort, we will 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," Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson wrote. "In any such situation, we expect store disruption to be temporary."

In another open letter to employees, Rosann Williams, EVP and president, U.S. company-operated business and Canada, outlined the specifics of "catastrophe pay" for employees.

"We are temporarily expanding catastrophe pay for COVID-19 partner care," Williams wrote. "Any partner who has been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, or comes in close prolonged contact with someone in their store or household who has, is eligible for up to 14 days of catastrophe pay – whether or not they are showing symptoms – so they can self-isolate at home. You can use this catastrophe pay, and then use additional benefits like sick pay, vacation pay or personal time off as available. At the end of 14 days, if partners are still unable to return to work, additional pay replacement may be made up to 26 weeks."

Any employee who had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and is showing symptoms should stay home. "You can use our temporary, expanded catastrophe pay for any scheduled shifts over a three-day period, and then similarly use our additional benefits like sick pay, vacation pay or personal time off," Williams wrote.

Employees 60 or older and those with underlying health conditions concerned about contracting coronavirus could take the 14 days of catastrophe pay to self-isolate with a doctor's recommendation.

Starbucks already instituted several changes in response to coronavirus fears. They are putting store equipment thought extra cleaning and sanitizing, stopped allowing customers from using personal cups, "for here" serve ware and sampling.

There are 1,215 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty-six deaths have been reported.


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