Starbucks Shuts Some Stores, Removes Seating To Slow Coronavirus

SEATTLE, WA — Coffee giant Starbucks said Sunday it will take away seating at all stores nationwide and close some stores in “high-social” areas such as shopping malls and college campuses in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The new seat-free, “to-go” model will be in place for at least two weeks, the company said in a statement.

Customers can still walk up and order at the counter, although some stores may have “order ahead” hand-off areas, according to the company.

Some stores in communities with severe COVID-19 outbreaks, such as Seattle and New York, will also be closed or have their hours cut, the company said.

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“As we all know, the situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic, and we will continue to review the facts and science and make the proactive decisions necessary to protect our partners, customers and communities,” Rossann Williams, Starbucks’ vice president for the U.S. and Canada, said in a statement.

Williams said the company is applying lessons it learned from the COVID-19 outbreak in China, where Starbucks operates thousands of locations.

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