Starbucks released a statement on Sunday saying that it would halt in-store customer seating in North America for at least two weeks, while limiting operation hours and closing a few shops in high traffic area in a bid to help reduce spreading the COVID-19.
In a memo which was sent to more than 220,000 partners across the United States and Canada, the company plans to limit customers to carry out orders only and will close stores which operates in high social gathering location like in shopping malls and university campuses.
Major brands like Nike, Under Armour, Walmart, Apple, and many others have already stopped most of their operations in affected locations worldwide, in a battle to encourage social distancing, as COVID-19 engulfs countries and brings down the world economy.
“Over the last 24 hours, as more communities, including the federal government, have called for increased social distancing to help contain the virus, we have made the decision to move to our next level of protocols,”
“Starting today, we will move to a ‘to go’ model across the U.S. and Canada for at least two weeks to help prevent prolonged social gathering in our cafés,”
“These are the actions we know are effective based on our experience in China”
“Working together, I am confident we can modify operations in all stores quickly and seamlessly, as we know the majority of our customers already get their order ‘to go’ and most of our customers who typically use our café seating are also used to visiting us at [Mobile Order & Pay] and Drive Thru,”Rossann Williams, president of U.S. company-operated business and Canada, wrote in a memo to Starbucks partners.
Starbucks who has the experience in dealing with the virus when the first outbreak was reported in Wuhan, closed more than half of its 4,000 China-based stores in late January, despite it being their second largest and fastest growing market.
At the present moment, 90% of the China locations are now open as the virus comes to a halt in China.
Starbucks expects its stores sales in China for the fiscal second quarter to fall by 50% compared to a year ago because of the closures. They also expect revenue to take a hit of approximately $400 to $430 million in the quarter.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in The United States hit 3,244, with the death toll rising to 62. Most of the deaths in The United States occurred in Washington the home state for the Seattle based coffee giant.
Starbucks placed a temporary ban on personal cups and increased cleaning and sanitizing in its stores earlier this month. A week ago, they extended their existing sick pay and personal time off benefits to offer catastrophe pay for 14 days to any employee diagnosed or exposed to COVID-19.
The company also changed the format of its annual meeting of shareholders scheduled this week to a virtual only event.