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Starbucks coronavirus plans include extra cleaning, canceling employee travel

James Leggate

Starbucks said it has learned from its experiences dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus at is Chinese locations and it is using those lessons to step up precautions at its U.S. stores.

The coffee chain has increased cleaning and sanitizing at all its stores and is pausing the use of customers’ personal cups and reusable tableware in its stores, Rossann Williams, who leads Starbucks’ retail operations in the United States and Canada, wrote in an open letter Wednesday.

Starbucks has also provided information to its store teams about how to report and support anyone who may have been affected by the virus, including support for making the decision to close a store, if necessary, according to Williams.

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“Our focus remains on two key priorities: Caring for the health and well-being of our partners and customers, and playing a constructive role in supporting local health officials and government leaders as they work to contain the virus,” she wrote.

Starbucks has also restricted business-related air travel through March 31 and modified or postponed plans for large meetings across United States and Canadian offices, according to Williams.

Washington is where the second-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases and the most deaths in the United States have occurred. There were at least 39 cases in Washington as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Starbucks headquarters is in Seattle.

Amazon said on Tuesday that one of its Seattle employees had been diagnosed with the virus.

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Starbucks previously said it had to temporarily close half its Chinese stores as the coronavirus outbreak spread there. The company warned shareholders in January that the outbreak could impact its near-term bottom line.

With more than 80,000 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, China accounts for the bulk of the 93,000 cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. There have been more than 3,100 deaths worldwide, including 11 in the U.S.

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