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Starbucks closing some stores, eliminating seating amid coronavirus outbreak

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Starbucks is ramping up its efforts to stop the spread of the new coronavirus by removing seating from its stores.

The coffee chain says people will still be able to make purchases in-store and online, but they’ll be encouraged to take items to go.

Starbucks said in a statement online that it was modifying the MOP (mobile order and pay) handoff plane on a store by store basis and making changes to its cash handing procedures.

READ MORE: Apple closes all stores outside China for 2 weeks amid viral pandemic

It says it’s also temporarily closing stores in “high-social gathering locations” such as those in shopping malls and on university campuses.

Two weeks ago, Starbucks stopped accepting personal, refillable coffee cups and stopped offering “for here” mugs” in an effort to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

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Customers who ask for those cups or bring in their own mugs have still received a 10-cent discount, but have been given single-use cups instead. According to the company, the 10-cent discount has been offered to customers who bring in their own cups since 1985.

Last week, it also said it was considering moving to drive-thru only, or only accepting mobile ordering for pickup or delivery through the Starbucks App or Uber Eats.

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The chain says workers whose hours will be affected by the pandemic will get “catastrophe pay.” Employees can use up to 14 days of catastrophe pay in addition to paid sick leave, vacation time and personal days.

Employees with symptoms are also being asked to stay home.

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Lush Canada and Lululemon are also temporarily shuttering their stores.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Lush to close all 258 stores in Canada, U.S. and to slow production