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Starbucks To Close Select Stores, Cut Operating Hours

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Starbucks Corp. is moving to a "to go" model for all its stores across the U.S. and Canada for at least two weeks to help prevent prolonged social gathering in its cafes due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Seattle-based coffee giant will also temporarily close company-operated stores in "high-social gathering locations" like stores that are located inside malls or on university campuses.

In communities such as Seattle and New York with high clusters of COVID-19 cases, the company will reduce operating hours or temporarily close select stores.

Starbucks said that starting Sunday, it will pause the use of all seating, including cafe and patio seating, and modify the condiment bar in all its stores. However, cafe, mobile order & pay, drive-thru and delivery options will continue to remain open.

"Over the last 24 hours, as more communities, including the federal government, have called for increased social distancing to help contain the virus, we have made the decision to move to our next level of protocols," said Rossann Williams, Starbucks' executive vice president and president of U.S. company-operated business and Canada said.

Starbucks is modifying the mobile order pickup or MOP station on a store-by-store basis and integrating a change in its cash handling procedure by moving to a designated partner at POS and Drive Thru Window. It will allow partners in these roles to wear gloves.

As part of its first set of precautions in early March due to COVID-19, Starbucks suspended the use of personal cups and mugs at its North American outlets.

The company also said it is increasing the number of cleanings at all its company-operated stores as well as suspending business-related air travel, both domestic and international, for the rest of March.

In addition, Starbucks decided to temporarily expand the catastrophe pay for partners impacted by COVID-19.

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