Letter to partners: Update on COVID-19 preparedness

Open letter to Starbucks partners from Rossann Williams, evp and president, U.S. company-operated business and Canada


As we continue to navigate COVID-19 together, I want to be sure we continue to be transparent in our communication and keep you updated on recent developments. We remain committed to leading with partner care, transparency and making our decisions based off facts and science – relying on the experts to support our actions so we are always doing what’s best for you, our customers and communities.

For the last few weeks, we have been closely monitoring and preparing for all the possible scenarios and ensuring we have the right plans and resources in place, defined principally by the expert guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health authorities. As mentioned in previous communications, this includes the cleaning of common areas and ensuring partners are being diligent in executing the cleaning guidelines. 

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. We quickly activated our protocols, immediately closing the store and initiating a deep clean overnight, following all recommended guidelines from the City of Seattle and King County public health authorities. 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. We look forward to welcoming our customers back very soon so we can continue to be their Third Place.

Because this is our first confirmed case, we felt it was best to reach out and share this update with you all. I wanted you to know that we are taking care of the partner and supporting them with whatever they might need. We checked in again with our partner this morning, and they shared they are feeling well and will continue to focus on rest and recovery. We also recognize that closing a store can cause hardship for some partners, and we’re caring for them in every way possible. Out of respect for the partner, I ask that we all honor their privacy and avoid sharing details publicly in social media. For now, we are all focused on supporting them, doing what is right for all of you, and supporting all field leadership and store partners with whatever they need.

Looking ahead, we will continue to follow our COVID-19 protocols, rooted in partner care and expertise from the CDC. The frequent, additional cleaning and sanitizing procedures already underway in all our stores are fully in line with their guidance. I know the situation with COVID-19 is evolving quickly and we might hear about other impacted partners in our Starbucks community, here and around the country. When we do, we will quickly enact similar measures – closing the store, deep cleaning, and taking care of every partner. The entire leadership team and working group remain fully committed, meeting regularly with the experts, to ensure we do what’s best for you, today and always. In the meantime, we remain committed to honest conversation, taking care of one another, and making decisions with you in mind – always through the lens of Our Mission and Values.

Warm regards,