There are 29,000 Starbucks stores around the world, and in 2020 that means there are 29,000 places where people can contract the COVID-19 coronavirus. Their Chinese stores have been taking additional measures to protect customers for a while, given that the virus likely originated there, but given its rapid spread globally U.S. stores are now following suit.
Behind the scenes, that means more cleaning and sanitizing than usual, training store employees to spot and report symptoms, restricting business travel, and modifying or postponing large meetings. But the biggest customer-facing change is a temporary prohibition on refilling reusable cups.
“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,” said Starbucks executive VP and president of US and Canadian business. “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.”
The good news is that if you’re used to getting the ten-cent discount for bringing in your own cup, you can still get it even though your barista will give you your drink in a disposable cup. The same goes for the “for here” mugs offered at some locations.
Notices that read “We are temporarily pausing the use of reusable cups in care of our customers and partners” are going up at stores around the country. No expiration date has been offered, but we can imagine that, given the company’s stated commitment to sustainability, it will remove the ban once it’s deemed safe by public health authorities.