Normally, Starbucks (SBUX 0.23%) encourages customers to bring in reusable cups. It also offers "for here" mugs in some locations. Due to coronavirus, however, the chain plans to put a halt on both of those things.

"We are pausing the use of personal cups and 'for here' ware in our stores," the chain's U.S. President Rossann Williams wrote in an open letter to customers. "We will continue to honor the 10-cent discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup or asks for 'for here' ware."

Starbucks mugs.

Starbucks is only offering disposable cups until the coronavirus threat passes. Image source: Starbucks.

How is Starbucks handling coronavirus?

The company is doing more than just banning the use of reusable cups. It's also making a number of moves including:

  • Adding paid hours to increase the time spent cleaning and sanitizing stores
  • Providing "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"
  • Restricting travel for company employees
  • Modifying or postponing large meetings

These moves won't have a major impact on store operations unless closures are forced. What they do is put in place procedures to handle what could become a serious outbreak of the virus.

Plan for the worst

Starbucks is taking a very sensible approach to handling coronavirus. It's making smart moves that consumers mostly won't see, which will help avoid unnecessary panic. It's also accepting that short-term closures may happen and that closing stores to protect the health of employees and customers is the right thing to do. Hopefully, others in the restaurant space will see what the cafe chain has done and make similar plans.