Coronavirus pushes Starbucks to close some stores, change to a 'to-go' model

'The situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic,' coffee chain exec says

Starbucks announced Sunday it will temporarily close some stores and change all locations in the U.S. and Canada to a “to-go” model in an effort to combat the spreading of the new coronavirus.

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“As we all know, the situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic and we will continue to review the facts and science and make the proactive decisions necessary to protect our partners, customers and communities,” Rossann Williams, executive vice president and president, U.S. company-operated business and Canada, wrote in a letter to U.S. partners.

Company-owned stores in high-social gathering areas like malls and university campuses are subject to temporary closures, as are locations in communities that have a high number of people infected with the virus. Stores in areas with high clusters of the virus – such as New York and Seattle – are also subject to reduced operating hours, Starbucks said.

The world’s biggest coffee chain said customers will still be able to walk up and order at store counters, through the Starbucks app, at the drive-thru or via delivery service. It is also pausing the use of all seating in café and patio areas.

“Every community’s needs are incredibly different,” Williams wrote. “We want to make sure we play a constructive role by taking responsible actions, in partnership with the CDC and local public health authorities, so we can continue to do what’s right for our partners and customers.”