Starbucks announces 'to go' only model at all cafes nationwide

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Starbucks announced it will implement a "to go" only model in all its cafes nationwide and in Canada.

The international coffee shop is headquartered in Washington State, one of the states with the most number of confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19 at present (second only to New York). On Sunday, its corporate team sent new restrictions to all company-owned stores across the country. The changes were implemented immediately and will remain in effect for at least two weeks.

Here is what Starbucks customers can expect going forward:

  • All Starbucks locations will temporarily shut down all use of seating, both indoors and in the patio areas.

  • People can still order at the counter but are asked to do so through the "order ahead" feature on the Starbucks app, through the drive thru or delivery to mitigate in-person contact.

  • There will still be condiment bars but it will be modified to lessen hand-to-hand contact. (TODAY Food reached out to a Starbucks spokesperson regarding how condiment bars will change but did not receive a reply Monday afternoon.)

  • Some stores will create "'order ahead' handoff areas" for expedited pickup.

  • Starbucks in "high-social gathering locations, such as malls and university campuses" will all close temporarily.

  • Starbucks in communities with higher numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases will also close temporarily or have limited hours.

"Every community's needs are incredibly different. 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," Rossann Williams, executive vice president and president of U.S. and Canada company-operated business, wrote in the release.

Starbucks was one of the first major chains to make a proactive change in its service policy when COVID-19 starting gaining traction, but before the World Health Organization declared it as a pandemic, by temporarily suspended its reusable cup program in hopes of preventing the spread of germs.

Also on Sunday, an increasing number of states, municipalities and thousands of restaurants announced closures, new capacity limitations and takeout-only policies.