Starbucks says U.S. workers must get COVID-19 vaccine or tests

People walk past a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York
People walk past a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, U.S., December 7, 2021.
REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario

Starbucks Corp will require its U.S. workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing in order to comply with new federal mandates, the company said in an update sent to employees on Monday.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set a new date of Feb. 9 for large employers to require either full vaccination or weekly testing as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads quickly throughout the United States.

The explosion of new cases has sidelined workers across the country, delaying the start of some schools, closing some restaurants and causing major disruptions at airlines.

A company source told Reuters that Starbucks is not currently seeing broad closures of its cafes as a result of Omicron – unlike in the first half of 2020, when the pandemic forced the coffee chain to temporarily shut at least half of its U.S. stores and convert remaining locations to drive-thru and carry-out only.

Starbucks’ approximately 220,000 U.S. employees must disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 10, according to a letter from Chief Operating Officer John Culver sent to employees on Dec. 27 and repeated in a weekly update on Monday.

If workers choose not to get vaccinated, they can be tested weekly instead and are responsible for acquiring their own OSHA-approved tests and submitting results.

Starbucks experienced spot outages of certain products – as did many other restaurant chains – last year amid a supply chain crunch ignited by the pandemic.