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All Starbucks locations shifting to a 'to go' only model in Canada

You can expect to see some locations reduce hours or close up temporarily, too
A Starbucks cafe in Vancouver, Oct. 2019. Photo: Michael Gordon /

In a letter issued March 15 to all Starbucks employees in Canada, the coffee chain announced they will be shifting all their locations to a "to go" model on a temporary basis, as the nation grapples with the COVID-19 crisis.

"We are removing all seating, including all café and patio seating," writes Lori Digulla, president, Starbucks Canada. 

The shift to the "to go" only model will be complete by Wednesday across Canada.

With the change to the "to go" model, stores will see further modifications, including changes in their cash-handling procedures as well as how they move the terminal for other methods of payment between the customer and employee. There will also be modifications to the in-store condiment bars.

Starbucks Canada says they have learned from their experiences in China, and that "these are the actions we know are effective."

The "to go" model will last at least two weeks, says Starbucks. During that time, customers may still use Mobile Order & Pay, as well as the drive-thru windows.

"We’re sorry, that for the time being, customers will not be able to sit in our stores and enjoy the Third Place we work so hard to offer them every day," adds Digulla.

"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."

Some company-operated Starbucks locations in Canada, however, will close down all operations temporarily. Those locations are in "high-social gathering locations like stores that are located inside malls or on university campuses," says the coffee chain. 

Additionally, expect reduced operating hours or closures in any Canadian area where there are high clusters of COVID-19 cases. 

To help their employees, Starbucks says that workers may access their Catastrophe Pay program if they are directly affected by COVID-19. The company has also invested $10 million into the company’s financial emergency CUP Fund, and other resources globally to support partners’ needs beyond pay.