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Downtown Starbucks Closes After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

The location at First Avenue and University Street has undergone a deep clean

A Starbucks cup on a wooden table with a blurry background.
Last week marked the first confirmed case of a Starbucks employee contracting the novel coronavirus.

Seattle’s ongoing impact related to COVID-19’s spread has now extended to Starbucks. The coffee chain’s location at First Avenue and University Street closed Friday after the company learned that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19. Starbucks said it initiated a deep clean of the store immediately, following the recommended guidelines by local health authorities. “These officials have encouraged us to reopen the store after further preventative cleaning, which we have already conducted, staffed by partners [the term Starbucks commonly uses for employees] who have no known impact from COVID-19,” read a statement from the company.

The cafe was still closed as of late Sunday, but hoped to open again Monday morning. According to the Starbucks statement, the employee — who was not identified — has been resting at home in isolation, and was reportedly “feeling well.” It is unknown at this time whether other employees at this location, one of the chain’s “reserve” outposts, or others have been tested for COVID-19 as well. An email to the King County public health department was not returned as of publication.

This is Starbucks’s first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. Last week, the company announced a number of new measures in an attempt to assure customers that it was trying to address concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Those included asking the staff at its 14,000 locations across the U.S. to sanitize busy areas of the store after eight minutes, and temporarily discontinuing the practice of filling diners’ personal mugs and cups (though it will still offer a 10-cent discount for those that bring them in). Starbucks had closed about 80 percent of its 4,300 locations in China in early February due to concerns over the coronavirus, but aims to reopen the majority of those this spring. Those closures will still cost the company between $400 and $430 million in revenue.