Starbucks Bans Reusable Cups to Stem Spread of Coronavirus

March 8, 2020 Updated: March 8, 2020

Starbucks has imposed a temporary ban on the use of reusable cups at its stores over concerns about contagion from the new coronavirus.

The Seattle-based coffee chain said in an open letter Wednesday that it was temporarily suspending the use of personal cups and containers at all its stores around the world to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

“We are pausing the use of personal cups and ‘for here’ ware in our stores,’ wrote executive vice president Rossann Williams in the notice, adding the company was taking cues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health authorities in formulating its response to the outbreak.

“We are optimistic this will be a temporary situation,” Williams said, adding, “We will continue to act thoughtfully and courageously despite the disruption and uncertainty COVID-19 brings to our daily lives.”

She said other measures Starbucks was taking to stem the spread of coronavirus include ramping up cleaning and sanitizing at all its stores “to help prevent the spread of all germs,” restricting business-related air travel, and postponing or “modifying” large company meetings.

Starbucks employees have also received new instructions on how to react to anyone who “may express they’ve been impacted by the virus,” the note said.

Epoch Times Photo
A worker uses a thermometer to check the temperature of a customer as she enters a Starbucks shop as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing, China, on Jan. 30, 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

On Friday, Williams announced in a separate letter that an employee at one of its Seattle locations tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first confirmed case of a Starbucks employee falling ill with the disease.

“Late last night, we learned one of our store partners at our 1st & University store in downtown Seattle was diagnosed with COVID-19 and is self-isolating at home for a period of time,” Williams said.

She added the store was closed immediately and sanitized.

“We quickly activated our protocols, immediately closing the store and initiating a deep clean overnight,” she said, adding that the company was following guidance from city and health officials.

“These officials have encouraged us to reopen the store after further preventative cleaning, which we have already conducted, staffed by partners who have no known impact from COVID-19,” she wrote.

The new coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have spread to more than 90 countries and territories around the world, killing thousands.

The number of people infected with the virus surpassed 100,000 across the world on Friday as the outbreak reached more countries and intensified economic damage, with business districts beginning to empty and stock markets tumbling.

An increasing number of people were asked to stay home from work, schools were closed, large gatherings and sports and music events were canceled, stores were cleared of basic goods like toiletries and water, and face masks became a common sight.

In the United States, 19 people have died and almost half of all states have reported cases.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM