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Starbucks to Require Customers to Wear Masks

Starbucks Corp. SBUX -0.77% will require customers in the U.S. to wear masks at company-operated stores starting next week, as retailers look to keep employees and patrons safe amid rising coronavirus cases in parts of the country.

Customers will have to wear masks in about 8,900 stores Starbucks runs beginning July 15, the company said in a blog post Thursday. The number of new coronavirus cases have hit new daily highs this week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and hospitalizations are straining hospital systems in several states.

Companies with consumer businesses have faced many challenges in trying to figure out how to safely operate stores during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the virus spread earlier this spring, some retailers and restaurant chains that stayed open had to race to buy masks and other protective equipment for employees.

Costco Wholesale Corp. in May faced criticism and a boycott over its decision to require that all customers wear a mask. Employees and security guards have faced attacks by some patrons who refused to cover their faces.

Starbucks is sending signage about the new mask requirement to store managers and offering them resources on how to de-escalate situations where customers won’t wear masks, the Seattle-based company said in a message to employees viewed by The Wall Street Journal. In some cases, workers may have to “respectfully refuse service with kindness,” according to the memo.

Wall Street Journal, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.com, July 10, 2020

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