Starbucks Reopens Stores in China Coronavirus Epicenter

Starbucks confirmed this week that 95 percent of its stores in China have reopened
Starbucks confirmed this week that 95 percent of its stores in China have reopened

March 24, 2020 - Giving hope to the global hospitality industry, Starbucks confirmed this week that around 95 percent of its stores in China have reopened. The decision to reopen is based on the news that the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to decline across the country. This is welcome news for food businesses in other countries trying to determine how long their COVID-19 closures are set to last.

Most of the Chinese Starbucks stores were closed for between 45 and 60 days, with CEO Kevin Johnson confirming that he believes the US is following a similar trajectory to China with maybe a couple of weeks difference. Last week Starbucks closed down all of its stores in the US and Canada except for drive-thru and delivery, just a week after removing all seating through its stores. This is a pattern observed amongst many food businesses in North America as regulations about what food businesses can and can’t do become increasingly strict.

The re-opened Chinese stores include 4 or 5 stores in Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the pandemic is believed to have started. Despite the stores reopening, the city of Wuhan continues to be locked down until at least April 8 although travel restrictions have been eased throughout the rest of the province.

Extra safety protocols are still in place at all reopened stores including minimal seating to prevent large groups gathering in-store. However, the reopening of the stores is seen as a positive step in the right direction for the hard-hit food industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starbucks confirms it’s learnt its “playbook” for dealing with the virus during the past nine weeks in China, and will be using this to inform decisions in other countries. Food businesses would do well to follow their lead as the company shows confidence in both navigating the COVID-19 pandemic from a business perspective, as well as taking all necessary steps to protect its workforce.