Starbucks to close bathrooms to public over safety fears

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Starbucks Union Louisiana (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Starbucks Union Louisiana (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Starbucks’ chief executive, Howard Schultz, has announced that the company is considering closing all stores’ bathrooms due to an “issue of just safety”.

While speaking at New York Times’s DealBook D.C. policy forum on Thursday, Schultz said that Starbucks wants to put a limit on the amount of non-customers allowed in stores.

According to Schultz, as the company is focused on the “safety” of its workers and customers, Starbucks has considered closing all bathrooms in its coffee shops.

“We have to harden our stores and provide safety for our people,” he said. “I don’t know if we can keep our bathrooms open.”

This is Schultz’s first time publicly speaking about Starbucks’ open- bathroom policy, as it was first put in place in May 2018.

During a talk at the Atlantic Council in Washington at the time, he noted that while he didn’t want Starbucks to become a designated bathroom spot for everyone, the company still felt like it was “the right decision” to give people access to stores’ restrooms.

“We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we’re going to make the right decision 100 per cent of the time and give people the key, because we don’t want anyone at Starbucks to feel as if we are not giving access to you to the bathroom because you are less than,” he said. “We want you to be more than.”

The decision came into place after two Black men were arrested at a store in Philadelphia in April 2018, as they had walked in a Starbucks and asked to use the bathroom. However, an employee told them that couldn’t, as they weren’t paying customers.

Once the men sat down at one of the tables, without order anything, the manager called the police and had them arrested.

However, no charges against the men were filed. Starbucks has since issued an apology to both of them and closed 8,000 stores in America, at the time, in order for workers to undergo extra racial-bias training.

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