As some areas in the United States start to witness a flattening curve of new coronavirus cases, Starbucks has announced plans to begin reopening stores across the country.
The coffee giant told investors today that it will begin reopening U.S. cafés for to-go service beginning in May, and by early June, Starbucks expects to reopen 90% of its company-run U.S. locations.
In a press release posted April 29, the company shared new social distancing procedures as stores begin opening on May 4, including converting entryways into pickup windows, requiring baristas to wear face masks at all times, pre-shift temperature checks for baristas and floor markers to space out customers waiting in line.
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And on April 16, in an open letter to employees, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said the company will be transitioning into a new phase best described as “monitor and adapt.”
“This means every community will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and people and businesses in that community will begin to adapt,” Johnson wrote.
The company has gone through a similar transition in China, where the number of new COVID-19 cases per day has dropped drastically in recent weeks. Currently, over 95% of all Starbucks stores have reopened in China, according to the company.
“As was the case in China, this means we will gradually expand and shift the customer experiences we enable in our stores,” Johnson wrote.
“For example, some Starbucks stores will continue as drive-thru only, others may utilize the mobile ordering experience for contactless pickup and delivery and others may reopen for ‘to-go’ ordering. As we experienced in China, this will be a journey and we are thoughtfully preparing for this next phase as we adapt in the U.S.” he continued.
On March 21, Starbucks closed the lobbies in all of its company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada and moved to a drive-thru and delivery-only model in an effort to help combat the global health crisis. The company also pledged to do more to keep its employees safe.
While this model remained in place for more than the originally announced two weeks, the company said this new phase will begin early next month.
“Beginning May 4, we will re-open as many stores as we can with modified operations and best in class safety measures, and intend for any partner who is healthy and well to come back to work,” Rossann Williams, the company's executive vice president, said in a statement released on April 16.
“As states begin to relax their stay-at-home orders and more communities prepare to reopen, we will need to get our stores back up and running, wherever it is safe and responsible to do so, so we can keep every partner employed and be a light for our communities through this next phase of rebuilding and recovery,” she said.
Starting May 3, however, employees will no longer be paid if they do not show up to work their assigned schedules. However, during this transitional period, the coffee giant plans to extend service pay through the end of next month, which gives an additional $3 per hour to employees who are healthy and come back to work. Starbucks will also extend catastrophe pay for those who have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 so they can remain isolated.
In Johnson’s letter, he explained there are “dozens of factors” that will help inform the chain's decisions, but they are primarily focusing on four main issues: “the local status of the public health crisis, guidance from health and government officials, community sentiment and store operational readiness.”