Item now banned from Aussie cafes
Some of the country's largest coffee chains have joined the fight against the deadly coronavirus by prohibiting everyday items from stores.
Under the tough new rules, personal reusable coffee cups, or "keep cups", will no longer be accepted at Starbucks Australia branches, after the American-born juggernaut introduced the same policy in US stores earlier this month.
The new Aussie rule was announced on social media yesterday.
"We're committed to provide a clean, safe and welcoming environment for everyone who walks through our doors, and for our partners (employees) who serve you every day," the company posted on Facebook.
"As the situation of COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to quickly evolve and to ensure we're doing what's best for our community, we've put the following precautionary measures into place:
- A temporary pause on the use of personal, reusable cups
- All beverages and food served with disposable cups, plates and cutlery
- Extra cleaning efforts to sanitise all surface areas in our stores
"We will continue to monitor the situation closely alongside the advice of local health authorities and food safety experts. Stay well and don't forget to wash your hands!"
There are dozens of Starbucks stores across Australia, with branches in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
A similar stance was also adopted by The Coffee Club yesterday.
"At The Coffee Club our greatest priority is that our guests and team members feel safe and secure at our stores," the chain posted on Facebook.
"We know there is growing concern about coronavirus (COVID-19) and we are proactively taking additional measures to ensure that our stores remain a safe place to visit. While we always have rigorous food safety and hygiene programs in place, we are taking additional steps to ensure you feel comfortable when visiting our stores.
"This includes increased frequency of surface sanitisation, temporarily restricting the use of reusable cups, as well as a review of store layouts and the configuration of tables to abide by social distancing guidelines."
The company, which launched in Brisbane in 1989, is now Australia's largest homegrown cafe group, boasting around 400 stores in nine countries.
And it seems Retail Food Group has also followed suit, with a statement from executive chairman Peter George posted on the company's website explaining a raft of new measures to help the public health crisis.
"You may have noticed we've also moved our coffee and condiments sections to ensure our instore teams are completing coffee, food and other beverage orders behind the counter, rather than allowing the public to handle cup lids, sugar, stirrers, spoons or straws," Mr George wrote.
"We're only using disposable cups and crockery, rather than re-usable items, to help limit the potential spread of viruses.
"As well, there is no human handling of food within our stores, with food-safe gloves and other implements, such as tongs, used for your safety."
RFG is Australia's largest multibrand retail food and beverage franchise owner, which also roasts and supplies high-quality coffee products. It includes the popular Gloria Jean's, Donut King and Michel's brands.
A RFG spokeswoman told news.com.au there had been no store closures as a result of COVID-19 to date across any brand.
Other large companies which have already introduced a keep cup ban include McDonald's and Caltex, while a slew of smaller independent cafes across the country have also implemented the rule.