Navigating COVID-19: Update on changes to our stores as we care for partners, customers

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

Dear partners,

As the situation with COVID-19 unfolds, our commitment to you is that we will continue to make courageous, proactive decisions that are grounded in partner care, transparency and science, while doing our part to help stop the spread of the virus.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, we have been building protocols for every possible scenario, informed by the expert guidance of the CDC and local public health authorities. Two weeks ago, we activated our first set of precautions in all stores nationwide – from increased cleaning and sanitizing, to pausing reusable cups. We then made the decision to temporarily expand catastrophe pay for partners impacted by COVID-19, so you never have to choose between work and taking care of your health.

As Kevin shared in his letter last week, we are prepared to respond quickly to any emerging situation. Over the last 24 hours, as more communities, including the federal government, have called for increased social distancing to help contain the virus, we have made the decision to move to our next level of protocols. Starting today, we will move to a “to go” model across the U.S. and Canada for at least two weeks to help prevent prolonged social gathering in our cafés. Here’s what you can expect:

  • We are pausing the use of all seating, including all café and patio seating
  • Café, Mobile Order & Pay, Drive Thru and Delivery will still be open
  • We are modifying the condiment bar in all stores
  • We are modifying the MOP handoff plane on a store-by-store basis
  • We are integrating a change in our cash handling procedure, moving to a designated partner at POS and Drive Thru Window, and allowing (but not requiring) gloves for partners in these roles.

These are the actions we know are effective based on our experience in China. Working together, I am confident we can modify operations in all stores quickly and seamlessly, as we know the majority of our customers already get their order “to go” and most of our customers who typically use our café seating are also used to visiting us at MOP and Drive Thru. We had the opportunity to connect with your field leaders yesterday, and they are ready to work with you to help execute these temporary changes and make sure you are feeling fully supported.

As we all know, the situation with COVID-19 is extremely dynamic and we will continue to review the facts and science and make the proactive decisions necessary to protect our partners, customers and communities. While we make these shifts in all stores for at least two weeks, we are also taking the following measures:

  • We are temporarily closing company-operated stores in high-social gathering locations like stores that are located inside malls or on university campuses.
  • In communities such as Seattle and New York with high clusters of COVID-19 cases, we will reduce operating hours or temporarily close select stores.

Every community’s needs are incredibly different, and we are prepared to adjust as needed. We want to make sure we play a constructive role by taking responsible actions, in partnership with the CDC and local public health authorities, so we can continue to do what’s right for our partners and customers.

Caring for You and Your Families

Partner care is the top priority and we will take care of anyone impacted by adjusted hours of operation, modifications to operations, or a temporary closure, including redeploying partners to other stores and/or providing catastrophe pay. We have also made the decision to invest up to $10 million in our CUP (Caring Unites Partners) Fund and other global resources to support partners’ needs beyond pay, and we are temporarily expanding the Care@Work program to provide support for partners needing additional backup childcare options as a result of school closures. This includes two changes:

  • We will increase the number of back-up care days from 10 to 20
  • We will implement the Personal Network service through Care@Work which provides you with the option to be reimbursed up to $125 per day for use of your personal network of backup caregivers and centers (i.e. caregivers you may know but who are not part of the Care@work network of caregivers).

Our teams are working as quickly as possible to launch this expanded support with the CUP Fund and Care@Work, and will have more information on the Hub, along with partner FAQs and instructions, so you can submit requests in the coming days. In the meantime, please check in with each other and help make sure everyone knows about our existing resources – including  paid sick time, access to healthcare advocates who can support partners who may not be eligible for Starbucks health insurance, as well as our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for free mental health counseling for all partners and their families and household members. And remember – your field leaders, support partners and the PRSC (888-SBUX-411) – we are all here to help. 

These are truly uncharted times and we’re learning right alongside you as we navigate COVID-19 together. I am proud of the swift decisions we are making – and you have my word and that of every leader that we will always do what’s best for you and your families, informed by science and facts. We continue to be inspired by our partners in China, who have been through this very situation and continue to find ways to serve their communities safely and appropriately, and are now starting to go back to regular operations across the country. So, as the situation here in the U.S. continues to evolve, we may make some more changes, but through it all, we will do what we do best: leading through the lens of our Mission and Values. I know we will emerge even stronger, because when we get through this, our customers will need that sense of community and belonging again, and our Third Place will be more necessary than ever before.

THANK YOU for everything you are doing to take care of each other and lead with kindness. I am so proud to be your partner.

Warm regards,