Changes aim to keep both customers and workers safe.

Part of the secret to Starbucks’ success in Japan is its commitment to getting into the local spirit of things. We can thank that philosophy for the existence of such wonders as Frappuccinos in matcha and sakura flavors, but now the coffeehouse chain is adapting to a less pleasant reality of current life in Japan.

With new cases of coronavirus infection still being discovered in Japan, Starbucks has announced a number of new policies aimed at keeping both its customers and workers safe during the ongoing health crisis. For starters, while employees will still greet you with a friendly hello when you walk up to the counter, you won’t be able to see their smiles directly, since all staff members will be wearing surgical masks. Employees will also have their temperatures checked before starting their shifts.

Once you place your order, you won’t be asked if you’d like your drink in a ceramic mug or in a cup, since the first option is being suspended, with all beverages being served in disposable paper or plastic cups. Bringing in your own Starbucks tumbler and having the staff pour your drink into it, as dedicated fans of the brand like to do, is also not an option under the new rules, and you won’t see pots of milk, honey, or other add-them-yourself condiments left out anymore. For those stopping in for a bite to eat, all forks and knives will be single-use plastic items, not the metal cutlery the chain ordinarily provides.

▼ As shown in Starbucks’ photos, the self-serve condiments are now just outline memories.

In Japan, many businesses keep a tray near the register for customers to place their bills and coins on when paying. It’s often sort of a gray area as to whether or not cashiers will use the tray when giving you your change, but Starbucks new rules require staff to use it. Starbucks branches will also be increasing the frequency of their cleaning schedule for tables, door handles, and other parts within the cafe that are frequently touched by customers’ hands, and also setting out hand sanitizer for guest use.

There’s no current timetable for how long these policies will be in place, though as coronavirus countermeasures, eventually they’ll be lifted and you’ll be able to use that beautiful Starbucks sakura drinkware again.

Source, images: Starbucks
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