Starbucks: U.S. employees must be fully vaccinated by Feb. 9 or test weekly

Marianne Wilson
Marianne Wilson profile picture
Starbucks baristas
Starbucks to require its employees be fully vaccinated or test on a weekly basis.

Starbucks Corp. is the first large U.S. retail employer to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Starbucks is requiring its 220,000 U.S. employees to disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 10. Employees who choose not to be fully vaccinated by Feb. 9, when enforcement of the federal vaccine mandate for companies with 100 or more employees is scheduled to begin, will have to  present a negative COVID-19 test.  The test will be required to work in a Starbucks store,   office, plant or distribution center.  Employees are responsible for taking an OSHA approved test and submitting their test results prior to working each week. 

“In trying to explore all possibilities for partners, it became clear there is no “perfect” option, and every scenario has its own complexities," John Culver, COO and North American group president at Starbucks, wrote in a Jan. 4 letter to U.S. employees. "I believe the plan that we’ve landed on is ultimately the right plan, for right now. This is an important step we can take to help more partners get vaccinated, limit the spread of COVID-19, and create choices that partners can own based on what’s best for them."

In late December, a federal appeals court lifted a November injunction that had blocked the COVID-19 employer-based vaccination and testing mandate. Within hours of the ruling, at least three petitions were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is due to hear oral arguments on the mandate later this week.

[Read More: Strict vaccine mandate for private sector takes effect in NYC]