Starbucks to reopen 85% cafes, but with new protocols

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As more states ease coronavirus restrictions, businesses are slowly starting to reopen across the U.S., including Starbucks stores. The coffee chain plans to open 85% of its locations this week. However, as you would expect, things won’t be like before. Starbucks will reopen the stores with new protocols, something that it calls a “monitor and adapt” strategy. Detailed in this article are the new protocols and all you need to know on how to order once Starbucks starts to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Starbucks to reopen most stores

In a press release, the company indicated that the decision on protective measures to follow will vary on a store-by-store basis. Starbucks says it has made changes in its operations with an objective to prioritize the health and safety of employees and customers.

"As we open in the United States, 85 percent of our stores this week, we are doing it with enhanced safety protocols in the stores and experiences that we know we can deliver to customers in a safe way," Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson told "Good Morning America" on Tuesday.

In a letter posted online, Johnson informed that 90% of the locations would open by the end of June. The company temporarily closed about half of its 8,000 company-owned U.S. stores in late March.

“As we gradually come out of isolation, people will crave the connection and community that are fundamental to humanity,” the CEO said.

Johnson says their reopening strategy is based on the lessons they learned in China, where over 98% of its stores have reopened under “revised protocols.”

"We are leveraging our experience in China to inform our actions in other markets, including the U.S.," said Johnson.

Starbucks is among the few national chains to announce reopening plans. A few other big retail chains have also revealed reopening plans. For instance, Macy’s reopened some stores on Monday, while Best Buy plans to open about 200 stores this month. Tapestry, the owner of Kate Spade and Coach, will allow curbside pickup in 40 stores from Friday.

Starbucks Reopens: New protocols amid coronavirus

So, what are the new protocols that Starbucks will be following to reopen stores (and how you place an order) amid the coronavirus pandemic? As per the company, its focus is on mobile ordering, contactless pickup and cashless payments.

Johnson says the mobile app will gain more popularity now and is expected to become the most common payment method.

“We will also shift toward more cashless experiences, knowing that the handling of cash creates consumer concerns about the spread of viruses,” said Johnson.

Starbuck’s mobile app is already being used by 20 million people. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, over 80% of its orders were via the drive-thru or the mobile app. Now, the mobile app will also include an option for voice ordering, Johnson said in the letter.

Another big change will be the addition of new pick-up options, such as curbside pick-up. Starbucks has said that the experience at stores may differ based on the decision by the community leaders on a store-by-store and community-by-community basis. For instance, in some stores, customers will be able to pick up their orders from a barista at the door.

Also, customers will be able to pick up orders at store counters in locations where social distancing measures can be applied. Some locations will only operate with drive-thru windows, while a few will offer grab-and-go or order ahead service.

In certain locations where it is possible to apply social distancing guidelines, the customers would be able to place an order inside the store and take it to-go. The company, however, notes that only limited customers will be allowed inside the store at a time.

Other protection measures in place

The stores will also arrange for floor markers and signage to ensure that customers follow the social distancing guidelines. Seating will be prohibited until it is safe to do so.

Along with the new protocols, Starbucks is also taking many actions to protect its employees and customers as it starts to reopen stores amid coronavirus. The company says it will be sending protective equipment, such as facial coverings and gloves, to all its locations.

All the employees will have to check their temperature. Also, employees will have to complete a health assessment before each shift. They will also need to wear facial coverings and wash their hands frequently. Further, all locations will follow enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures.

How can you order now?

Below are all the details on how you can order once Starbucks starts to reopen stores amid coronavirus:

You can use the Starbucks store locator to locate a store that is open near you.

Some stores will allow "grab-and-go" or entryway pickup, while the drive-thru services will be fully operational.

You may download and use the Starbucks app to order and pay ahead.

Customers will be able to pick up their orders without entering the store, either from a barista at the door, or the drive-thru, or from a counter in the store (if it is available).

At a few locations, customers may be allowed to enter the store, place the order and take it to go.

Customers can also use Starbucks Delivers to get their order delivered to their door via Uber Eats and a “contactless” hand off.

Customers must follow the floor markers and in-store signage to ensure a smooth flow of operations.