Starbucks Extends Store Closures and COVID-19 Employee Benefits Into May
As communities around the world continue adjust their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, on Wednesday Starbucks announced it would be extending its nationwide suspension of dine-in and takeaway services.
After a high-profile closing of over 2,000 stores in China and later a store closure in Seattle last month, the company initially took preventative actions like limiting in-store seating, suspending the use of reusable cups by stores and customers, and ramping up sanitizing efforts.
But mounting pressure from employees concerned about commuting to work and interacting with customers in any capacity led Starbucks to make the decision to close all of its dining rooms and limit all services to drive-thru and delivery nationwide. It was one of the first major chains to take on a blanket policy regardless of differing state-by-state closure orders for bars and restaurants. Those closures were slated to last only two weeks after being implemented on March 20, but will now continue until May 3, according to an open letter sent to all staff from EVP and president, U.S. company-operated business and Canada Rossann Williams. One change to the limited services offered could be the hand-off of orders at the door, in order to alleviate issues with crowded drive-thru lines and increased mobile orders.
Also continuing are Starbucks' catastrophe benefits and pay increases for workers. The chain is currently paying employees regardless of whether they show up to work or self-isolate, offering those who do show up $3-per-hour raises and providing some childcare services. The company will also be providing forehead thermometers to all stores to check employees for fevers (if any is detected, those workers can stay home with pay). The letter also indicates that Starbucks hopes to see some operations return to normal following the May 3 extension.
In another announcement on Wednesday, the company also said that its Starbucks Foundation has donated $3 million to community relief efforts around the globe. That includes a million dollars to the UN and World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Another million was allocated to Give2Asia, which provides resources and training to doctors and other frontline health industry workers, $500,000 to for medical supplies and care packages to frontline workers in the U.S., and smaller donations have been made to United Way and other local organizations in Canada, New York City, and Seattle.
Perhaps most practical of all, Starbucks is also providing free tall coffees to customers who identify themselves as frontline healthcare workers throughout the crisis.