Starbucks stops the use of reusable cups over coronavirus fears

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The FINANCIAL — Starbucks is temporarily stopping use of reusable mugs because of the coronavirus. It’s unclear how long the reusable mug ban will last. Also, company converted its annual shareholders meeting in hometown Seattle to a virtual-only event due to concerns about the virus.

Starbucks has announced that it will be temporarily pausing the use of personal cups and “for here” ware such as ceramic mugs, amid the growing coronavirus outbreak. All drinks will now be served in disposable cups for the time being in the U.S. and Canada. Starbucks stores often ask customers with reusable cups to remove the lid before handing it over for their caffeine fix, likely due to germs from the mouth making the lid a potential microbiological hazard. But the new strategy decides to do away with the cups altogether, presumably with the goal of further minimizing the risk of transmitting the virus between staff and customers, or vice versa, Forbes reported.

Executive Vice President Rossann Williams, who overlooks the company’s business in the U.S. and Canada, said the company has “taken a series of precautionary steps in response to this emerging public health impact,” adding that customers who bring in their personal tumblers will still be eligible for the 10-cent discount, except they can’t use it. The company has also withheld the use of their “for here” cups and will only provide single-use cups. Starbucks stepped up sanitizing measures at all its company-operated stores, as well as suspended business-related air travel, both domestic and international, for the rest of March, per the statement, as reported by International Business Times.

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“We are taking guidance from the CDC and local health authorities, we have increased cleaning and sanitizing for all company-operated stores to help prevent the spread of all germs, adding paid time for our partners supporting this work,” Rossann Williams wrote.

The Seattle-based company said workers should expect to spend about half an hour on the deeper cleaning, which it wants them to perform during peak times, according to the paper. Starbucks is also asking staff to stay home if they’re sick and restricting customers from bringing their own cups into cafes for refills, the Journal’s story says. The company runs about 8,800 US stores and licenses about 6,300 shops to other operators, New York post reported.

Along with those adjustments, the company provided information to staff on how to report and support anyone infected with the coronavirus. It’s unclear how long the reusable mug ban will last. “We will continue to stay close to our partners and local health officials, and we are optimistic this will be a temporary situation,” notes Williams in the release according to Yahoo Lifestyle.

As part of the steps, Starbucks converted its annual shareholders meeting in hometown Seattle to a virtual-only event due to concerns about the virus. The meeting will be March 18, as originally planned. The party-like event that attracted 4,000 shareholders last year was supposed to be held at a theater in downtown Seattle. A virus cluster has emerged in Washington state, however, with 10 reported deaths, USA Today wrote.

The company, which has stores all over the world, closed half of their coffee shops in China in January as the virus started to spread throughout the country, but many have since reopened. Seattle is at the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. So far, 10 out of 11 people in the country who have died of the virus were from Washington, FOX News reported.

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