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May require orders via drive-thru, mobile due to coronavirus


Kevin Johnson, CEO, Starbucks

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson warned customers that some cafes may offer limited seating or only receive orders via mobile or drive-thru due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Locations in the U.S. and Canada are preparing to modify operations if needed.

“This means that as we navigate this dynamic situation community-by-community and store-by-store, we may adapt the store experience by limiting seating to improve social distancing, enable mobile order-only scenarios for pickup via the Starbucks app or delivery via Uber Eats, or in some cases only the Drive Thru will be open,” Johnson wrote in a letter to customers on Thursday.

Johnson said that the company will close a store temporarily as a last resort. Starbucks closed a downtown Seattle location on March 5 after one of its baristas was diagnosed with the virus. The cafe reopened Monday morning. Thirteen additional employees are self-quarantined.

Starbucks said Wednesday it is offering “catastrophe pay” for up to 14 days to baristas who have been exposed to the virus.

The measures are similar to those that Starbucks deployed in China, its second-largest market. The global coffee chain has reopened about 90% of its locations in China after temporarily shuttering more than half of them due to the virus.

Shares of Starbucks fell 6% in early trading amid broader market losses.

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