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OPINION: Your morning coffee runs could be exposing you to COVID-19



Starbucks is a beloved study spot for IU students. With delicious coffee and a typically tame atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to disappear into a final review guide. Even though there are new COVID-19 guidelines, they might not be genuinely keeping their customers and employees safe.

Starbucks receives dozens of orders a minute from the drive-thru, walk-ins and now GrubHub orders. The workers are constantly moving from order to order without much downtime.

“We are so busy and understaffed,” said Sam Foster, a Bloomington Starbucks worker. “We don’t have someone to watch positions allowing people to even go wash their hands.”

Although encouraged to wash their hands and sanitize, employees are moving so quickly that it is often overlooked. Not to mention the tiny space behind the counter is not near big enough to social distance.

Starbucks does require its customers to wear a mask. Some customers are impatient to drink their morning coffee before work or school and forget or ignore this requirement.

“We still have customers that lower their masks to talk to us and those who will touch our hands in the drive-thru. They will reach around barriers to touch made drinks that aren’t theirs and stand super close to the bar while we are making them,” Foster said.

Multiple locations across Bloomington didn’t even provide face masks to their employees right away and made them use coffee filters and plastic wrap as masks. Some employees were forced to make extra masks out of aprons.

Starbucks implemented these COVID-19 guidelines just for show. By overworking their employees and only implementing weak policies, it is hard to believe they genuinely care about keeping everyone involved in the franchise COVID-19 free.

This would not be the first time Starbucks changed protocol throughout the franchise to appeal to the public. When the Black Lives Matter movement had more protests over the summer, the employees at Starbucks were not allowed to show their alliance.

“We weren’t allowed to wear BLM attire when the protests were first starting, claiming it was against the dress code. After receiving backlash online, they allowed us to wear it and even paid to have shirts made,” Foster said.

If Starbucks received the same backlash online about their COVID-19 precautions, would they be willing to put money into making a safer environment for their workers and billions of customers?

“This format is just really hard to maintain, and when large crowds of people start collecting waiting on their mobile order and cafe orders during rushes, it is highly unsafe, and it makes us even more stressed,” Foster said.

Instead of going to large coffee chains, supporting local Bloomington coffee shops would be a safer alternative. As exciting as the new Dunkin’ opening is, keeping in mind how little another billion-dollar company cares about its community should be a warning to all of those rushing to get in the drive-thru line.

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