Starbucks has banned reusable mugs because of coronavirus

Friday, 6th March 2020, 4:23 pm
Updated Friday, 6th March 2020, 4:23 pm

As the UK continues to be affected by coronavirus, more is being done across the country to stem the continuing outbreak of the Covid-19 strain. Coffee chain Starbucks has announced that it will temporarily ban the use of reusable cups.

The company claims that passing reusable cups between customers and staff can spread the virus, so exclusively using disposable cups will limit this effect.

Can I still get a discount?

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Starbucks says it will still honour its usual discount if you turn up with your reusable mug, but it will decant your coffee into a takeaway paper one. For this reason, the company is going to drop its usual 5p surcharge per paper cup.

The coffee chain's Europe spokesman, Robert Lynch, said, "Out of an abundance of caution, we are pausing the use of personal cups or tumblers in our stores across the UK.

"However, we will continue to honour our 25p discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup."

Rival coffee shop, Costa said, "We have no plans to stop allowing the use of reusable cups in our stores, but, like all retailers, we are monitoring the situation closely and are following Government advice and guidance.”

Greggs also confirmed that there would be no changes in its own policy.

Is Starbucks just being paranoid?

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Sally Bloomfield from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said, "We don't know how serious [the virus] is, we are in a completely unknown phase of this, and I think in terms of preventing the spread, for the next three or four weeks then it should take a greater priority than an environmental concerns.

"I can be sympathetic and I can say that [the reusable cup ban] is not being paranoid. Handing someone a reusable cup is just the same as shaking hands with somebody... if there's anything we can do at the moment to slow down the spread, we should be doing it."

Starbucks has closed 4,300 outlets in China since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in China .

Almost every country in Europe has reported cases of Covid-19, including the UK, where the Government is preparing for a "worst case scenario" outbreak, predicting that one fifth of the entire UK workforce may be unable to work due to self-isolation or sickness.