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Starbucks cancels in-person shareholders meeting in Seattle due to coronavirus


Kevin Johnson of Starbucks speaks at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders at McCaw Hall in Seattle, Washington.

Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images

Starbucks said Wednesday that shareholders would not be able to attend its annual meeting in-person due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The shareholders meeting, scheduled for March 18, will only be available via webcast. The event was slated to be held at Seattle’s WAMU Theater, which has a seating capacity of up to 7,200 people.

The change in venue comes as the coronavirus death toll in Washington state rose to nine people on Tuesday. The majority of Washington’s cases are concentrated in the area surrounding Seattle. 

Starbucks also said that it has increased cleaning and sanitizing of company-owned cafes in North America, restricted all business travel through March 31 and will pause the use of reusable cups, including those brought in by customers.

Other companies, like Target and Google, have also made events virtual only as concern about the coronavirus outbreak grows. Conferences like the Natural Products Expo West, a trade show for natural and organic products, have been postponed.

Starbucks has already seen its business impacted by the virus. More than half of its cafes in China, its second-largest market behind the U.S., temporarily shuttered in response to the outbreak. The global coffee chain has since reopened most of those closed locations. Starbucks said in late January that it expects that the virus will “materially affect” its results for the fiscal second quarter and fiscal 2020.



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