Coffee giant Starbucks said that is no longer mandating COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing for its employees in the United States, reversing a policy it announced earlier this month.
In early January, the Seattle-based chain told its roughly 228,000 employees that they must disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 10, and must be fully vaccinated by Feb. 9 or submit to weekly testing.
“I recognize that partners have a wide spectrum of views on vaccinations, much like the rest of the country,” Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver said in a letter sent to employees. “My responsibility, and that of every leader, is to do whatever we can to help keep you safe and create the safest work environment possible.”
"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," Culver wrote. "If vaccination rates rise and community spread slows, we will adapt accordingly. But if things get worse, we may have to consider additional measures. For now, my hope is that we will all do our part to protect one another."
But on Tuesday, the company nixed that policy, citing the Supreme Court's decision last week to strike down the Biden administration's vaccine-or-testing requirement for companies with more than 100 employees.
"We respect the court’s ruling and will comply," Culver wrote in a memo to employees on Tuesday.
In the memo, Culver said the company continues to strongly encourage vaccinations and booster shots.
Starbucks said Wednesday that 90% of its employees have reported their vaccination status and the “vast majority” are fully vaccinated. The company did not specify the percentage of workers that are not fully vaccinated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.