(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Starbucks Canada to nix seating, closing mall, university-based stores due to COVID-19

Move comes as health official recommend social distancing

Starbucks stores all across Canada will look a little different as the coffee chain removes seating and closes some stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement posted Sunday, Starbucks Canada president Lori Digulla said they would close all company-operated mall and university-based stores. The coffee shop chain will also temporarily remove the seating from its stores and “modify” its condiment bar, allowing staff to wear gloves and changing how mobile orders are handled.

Drive-thrus and regular ordering will remain the same, Digulla said. Other changes, to be rolled out at a store-by-store basis include reducing hours or temporarily closing some stores.

Digulla said the changes will begin on Sunday and all stores will be converted to the “to-go” model by Wednesday.

The new system, Digulla said, was brought in as a result of recommendations to socially distance by both federal and provincial health officials. Canada had at least 313 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday.

“This decision was not made lightly as we know the important role our stores play in service of our communities and how our customers enjoy our seating as an important part of their daily lives,” she said.

Starbucks staff who cannot work because they or someone they’ve been in contact with has COVID-19 will receive Catastrophe Pay, the statement noted.

READ MORE: No travel ban, but all travellers asked to self-isolate as Canada hits 313 COVID-19 cases


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