The world’s largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks, is changing its COVID-19 protocols. The beloved coffee company has announced that all workers will be required get the COVID-19 vaccine or get tested for the virus on a weekly basis.
Starbucks chief operating officer John Culver announced the news via a letter to staffers. In the note, he said some reasons for the change in policy include the quick spread of the omicron variant and proven effectiveness of the vaccines.
“Although there are breakthrough cases, public health and medical experts say that people who are vaccinated will likely experience mild symptoms, while those not vaccinated are significantly more likely to become seriously ill, be hospitalized or die,” Culver said in the letter.
Culver also admitted that the vaccine debate can be a hot one, but he and Starbucks have the responsibility to “create the safest work environment possible.” Thus, Culver said the company would follow the federal government’s mandate for employers with more than 100 employees to require their staffers to get vaccinated or comply with testing each week.
Jan. 10 is the deadline for employees to let Starbucks know if they are vaccinated. Employees will be required to be fully vaccinated by Feb. 9 or being to have weekly testing for COVID-19 and show a negative test result.
Culver added that Starbucks will be as flexible as possible and that the new COVID-19 protocols would not necessarily be permanent. “If vaccination rates rise and community spread slows, we will adapt accordingly,” Culver said.
As of November 2021, Starbucks had 33,833 stores in more than 80 countries, 15,444 of which were located in the United States. Of Starbucks’ U.S. locations, more than 8,900 are company-operated and the rest are licensed. The company was founded in 1971 by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker in Seattle and is still headquartered in Seattle.