Starbucks announced that it will close 16 stores by the end of the month in the United States, including six each in the Seattle and Los Angeles areas, after workers reported a sharp rise in incidents of drug use on the premises.
The other locations to be shut down include two in Portland, Oregon, as well as one each in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
"We read every incident report you file — it’s a lot," wrote U.S. operations leads Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson in a message to American employees on Monday in response to reports it had received from employees. "We cannot serve as partners if [employees] don't first feel safe at work."
In an additional response to the safety concerns cited by workers, Starbucks said that it would also give store managers the authority to close restrooms, limit seating, or reduce operations.
The corporate policy of Starbucks had previously been that its restrooms are open to the public, according to the Seattle Times.
Interim Chief Executive Howard Schultz had previously said that "there is an issue of safety in our stores, in terms of people coming in who use our stores as a public bathroom," The New York Times reported.
Schultz said "we have to provide a safe environment for our people and our customers. The mental health crisis in the country is severe, acute, and getting worse."
Starbucks said workers had reported safety concerns during outreach sessions after Schultz returned to the company earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"Like so much of the world right now, the Starbucks business as it is built today is not set up to fully satisfy the evolving behaviors, needs and expectations of our partners or customers," Schultz wrote in a letter to employees.
Starbucks said employees would transfer to other locations when the stores are shut down.
Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.
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