Posted in: Business News
Published:
March 5, 2020 6:31 PM UTC

Starbucks Prepared to Shutter Stores as U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Rises

Starbucks has banned the use of reusable cups in response to the coronavirus, but it's also preparing to shut outlets if things get worse.

  • Starbucks has banned the use of reusable cups to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
  • The coffee chain is also planning to close outlets if affected by an infection.
  • Its moves are a forewarning of how American retail could be severely impacted by coronavirus.

Coronavirus has spooked Starbucks.

The coffee giant has announced that it’s no longer accepting customers’ reusable cups. Intended to reduce the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading via its stores, this move comes as one of several precautionary measures announced Wednesday.

If the inability to use your own cup weren’t already bad enough, Starbucks is also preparing to shut outlets in cases of infection. If nothing else, this is an indication of just how serious the coronavirus situation now is in the United States.

The virus has now impacted at least 18 states., causing 11 confirmed deaths. So Starbucks probably won’t be the only American retail outlet to consider shuttering its doors.

Starbucks: No Reusable Cups, Possible Closures

Predictably, Starbucks’ customers aren’t too happy about the coffee chain’s decision to stop serving beverages in reusable cups.

Source: Twitter

Other customers are supportive of the new policy. Still, some point out that the policy is undermined by other, less hygienic Starbucks barista practices.

Source: Twitter

Rejecting reusable cups is a sensible practice. You can’t guarantee that people wash their cups well enough. Nonetheless, is Starbucks going to stop accepting cash? Is it going to refuse the use of bank cards and loyalty cards? Or what about customers touching chairs, counters, doors, walls and so on?

It’s arguable that the Starbucks reusable cup precaution is more scary than helpful. What’s scarier is that Starbucks is preparing to close stores in the event that outlets are directly affected by coronavirus infections.

Its five “precautionary steps” includes the following:

We have provided scenario-based procedural information to our store teams on how to report and support anyone that may express they’ve been impacted by the virus, including store closure decision making support.

“Store closure decision making support.” Basically, Starbucks is willing to close stores if an employee has coronavirus symptoms. Or perhaps if they learn that a customer has or had the coronavirus.

So yeah, not being able to use your beloved reusable cup may be the worst of your caffeine-addicted problems.

Coronavirus Covering The United States

To be fair, Starbucks’ new policies are simply a reaction to the ongoing spread of coronavirus throughout the United States.

At least 18 states have now reported cases of the coronavirus. As previously mentioned, 11 people have died, with ten deaths in Washington State and one in California.

It’s likely that other outlets besides Starbucks will look closely at the possibility of store closures if the situation worsens.

What’s particularly grim about Starbucks’ new store-closure readiness is that it foretells how the US retail industry will be severely impacted by the coronavirus.

In Texas, the North Star Mall in San Antonio closed this week after a patient who’d tested positive for coronavirus visited it. Likewise, a recent survey found that 58% of Americans will avoid malls and entertainment venues if the outbreak worsens. So stores may end up being closed by default, since few if any people will visit them.

All of this points to an increasingly grim scenario. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently increased its estimate of the coronavirus’ death to 3.4%.

As the likelihood of coffee shop and store closures suggests, coronavirus could disrupt and impoverish our daily lives. Without the ability to go out for coffee, to go to the mall, or to even watch sport, enduring the coronavirus “pandemic” will become that much more difficult.

This article was edited by Sam Bourgi.

Simon Chandler @_simonchandler_

Simon Chandler is a journalist based in London, UK. He writes mostly about markets, and has bylines for Forbes, Wired, the Sun, RT.com, the Daily Dot, the New Internationalist, TechCrunch, the Verge, Lifewire, Cointelegraph, and VentureBeat, among others.

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