Starbucks
Photo via Starbucks

The world’s largest coffee chain has announced some temporary changes to the way it operates in North America amid fears of the spread of novel coronavirus.

In an open letter shared by Rossann Williams, executive vice president of the business in U.S. and Canada, the company expressed that they have been closely monitoring the situation as COVID-19 spreads across the world.

“Although the situation remains fluid, our U.S. and international markets have gleaned learnings from our leadership team and partners in China who were first faced with this epidemic,” writes Williams.

“As North America began experiencing heightened concerns, we quickly initiated a regular cadence of communications with our store partners to ensure they have the support they need.”

Among the precautionary steps taken by all branches of Starbucks in North America is a temporary pause on the use of reusable mugs and “for here” cups.

However the company says they will continue to honour the 10 cent discount for anyone who brings in a reusable mug or requests “for here” ware.

Starbucks has also provided scenario-based procedural information to store teams on how to report and support anyone that may express they’ve been impacted by the virus, including store closure decision making support.

The company reports that they have also increased sanitization efforts, restricted all business-related air travel until March 31st, and postponed or modified large meetings across offices in U.S. and Canada.

“We will continue to stay close to our partners and local health officials, and we are optimistic this will be a temporary situation…,” writes Williams.

“…we will continue to communicate with transparency and act courageously and responsibly to ensure the health and well-being of our partners and customers.”

No date has been provided for when Starbucks plans to reinstate the use of reusable mugs and in-store cups.

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