The changes, designed to encourage social distancing, will last at least two weeks.

By Jennifer Aldrich
March 16, 2020

If you're like many Americans and working from home for the foreseeable future, you might have thought about taking a break at your local Starbucks to enjoy your favorite drink. However, the company has altered its COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) precautions in light of social distancing recommendations. The Seattle-based coffee chain is implementing a to-go model, which means you won't be able to stay and enjoy your beverage, you'll have to take it with you. This new rule is for all company-owned stores (locations that aren't in supermarkets, such as Target) in the United States and Canada

Starbucks announced the news yesterday, March 15, as an update to its ongoing COVID-19 plan (which included the March 4 announcement that it would temporarily discontinue the use of reusable cups.) First, all seating inside cafés and outside on the patios are closed. However, you'll still be able to order at the counter, through the drive-thru, ahead via the Starbucks app, or for delivery where available. The condiment bars, where sugars and milks are kept, will have modifications, but nothing specific has been revealed. The release also explains that there could be modified "order ahead handoff areas." At a store in Des Moines, Iowa, for example, after a customer orders, one employee will handle the transaction, and the other will deliver the drink or food. The worker who touched the cash or card will immediately wash their hands to prevent contamination.

Anton Novoderezhkin/Getty Images

Additionally, some stores in "high-social gathering locations," including malls and college campuses, might be temporarily closed. Locations in communities that have high amounts of COVID-19 cases could also shut their doors for a time. These revisions will last at least two weeks, according to the news release.

The decisions are to encourage social distancing, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible." Although we all wish we could be going out to our favorite bars, restaurants, and stores (including Starbucks), it's imperative to stay at home and socially isolate to save lives.


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