Starbucks blames store closures, reduced hours on staff shortages from COVID

Finding a cup of coffee to start the day is getting a little harder for Starbucks fans. The coffee chain says the reason comes down to COVID. A Starbucks representative tells KTVU the move to close or reduce hours at stores around the Bay Area is a way to keep workers and customers safe.

Millions start their day with a cup of coffee from Starbucks, but many around the Bay Area are finding their favorite locations closed. A location at 580 California Street in San Francisco has a sign in the window, reading the coffee shop will be closed until February 27th.

Regular Starbucks customers say they've noticed locations closed around town. "I was just walking through Chinatown, and there were like very few Starbucks around there, there was only one I think, and there's normally a lot more," said one Starbucks customer.

Starbucks says the move is a sign of the flexibility the coffee chain is showing in light of the changing conditions surrounding COVID. 

A company spokesperson said they give room for individual stores to figure out the best path when dealing with a positive COVID case or possible exposure. The coffee chain says it will continue to pay workers who take time off for COVID related reasons, but that means that some locations will be restricting hours or in some cases temporarily closing down to provide enough time for workers to recover.

"When a store is experiencing a temporary staff shortage, we respond by reducing hours to be mindful that our partners aren't overworked - prioritizing their health and well-being in our decision-making," said Starbucks spokesperson Elizabeth Summers.

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Customers say they've adapted, in some cases going to locations tied to other chains like target stores, hoping to find locations that are open. "Yeah, you know I'm always excited to go to Target because I know they'll have a Starbucks," said Trinity Sullivan. "So, it would be good to know if they're not going to have it, so I can plan and maybe go to a different location."

Starbucks says customers can check the website or the app to find a nearby location, they say they are working to keep track of any changes in scheduling for locations, and will work to get customers to an open shop nearby.