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Starbucks tells U.S. employees to get vaccinated by Feb. 9 or face weekly testing

January 3, 2022, 5:24 PM UTC

Starbucks Corp. said its U.S. employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing by Feb. 9.

The new rules, which are in line with government standards for large employers, apply to staff in cafes, offices, plants and distribution centers, according to a message to employees dated Dec. 27 from Starbucks North America President John Culver. The company is also requiring U.S. workers to disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 10. 

Starbucks is one of the first restaurant operators to come forward with a strategy to implement new federal rules that require employees to either get the vaccine or test weekly. The Seattle-based chain is requiring workers to pay for their own tests, should they choose not to vaccinate. 

“The vaccine is the best option we have, by far, when it comes to staying safe and slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Culver said. “It’s concerning to see this new variant has pushed daily COVID-19 case counts higher than the Delta wave at its peak.”

During the pandemic, Starbucks has given local managers flexibility to adjust operations, such as shifting to carryout only and closing lobbies if cases spike in their communities. It has also provided pay for self-quarantine periods, and has committed to raise wages to attract and keep staff. 

With the Omicron variant, restaurants and retailers are once again facing a stern challenge amid a new wave of restrictions. A record 10 million people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the seven days through Sunday—close to twice the pandemic’s previous weekly high—as the variant spreads across the globe. 

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