By Micah Maidenberg 

Starbucks Corp. will require customers in the U.S. to wear masks at company-operated stores starting next week, a decision that comes as new coronavirus cases rise sharply in parts of the country.

Customers will have to wear face coverings in the stores it runs beginning July 15, the company said in a blog post on Thursday. The Seattle-based chain runs about 8,900 locations in the U.S., while 6,350 stores were run by outside operators under license agreements.

"We want the focus on partner and customer safety to guide us, and do so in a way that ensures you are feeling supported," Starbucks said in a message to employees viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Companies with consumer businesses have faced a raft of new challenges in trying to figure out how to safely operate stores.

As the virus spread earlier this spring, some retailers and restaurant chains that stayed open as essential businesses 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 masks. Employees and security guards have faced attacks by some patrons who refused to cover their faces.

Starbucks said in its blog post the company "is committed to playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of Covid-19."

At locations where local government mandates for masks aren't in place, customers who don't wear masks will be able to order items via drive-through windows, delivery or by using the company's curbside pickup option, Starbucks said.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 09, 2020 16:56 ET (20:56 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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