Starbucks enacted its new policy over the weekend that allows anyone to use its bathrooms whether they make a purchase or not, The Hill reported.
The "Third Place Policy" calls for its employees to create a "warm and welcoming environment" for every customer, "regardless of whether they make a purchase or not," according to the company's website.
The change comes five weeks after two black men were arrested for sitting at a table inside a Philadelphia Starbucks without making a purchase. A video of the men being escorted out of the store by police went viral sparking protests and boycotts of the massive coffee chain.
Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz announced the new policy earlier this month during a speech in Washington, where he received the Distinguished Business Leader Award from the Atlantic Council.
“We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we’re going to make the right decision a hundred percent of the time and give people the key,” Starbucks’ Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said earlier this month. “Because we don’t want anyone at Starbucks to feel as if we are not giving access to you to the bathroom because you are less than.”
Employees who feel threatened will still be allowed to call the police.
On May 29, more than 8,000 U.S. stores will be closed for an afternoon of racial-bias training with its employees.
What are the reactions to the new policy?
The reactions to the new restroom policy are mixed.
Some support the move, admitting they've done it themselves.
“I’ve definitely done it. So I don’t see a problem with it,” Nicole McDonald told KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.
“I think it should have always been that way, especially because of the way racism is and all,” Desiree Mollere told KCBS.
Other customers questioned the wisdom of the change.
"You could end up having, like, a squatters problem almost, where you just have people coming and staying," customer Joe Selva told the outlet. "If they're going to do that, they need to limit how long poeple can stay in there."
"Prediction: I'll never be able to get a seat at Starbucks again. Starbucks is a business, not a public library. This is so, so stupid," one customer, Amelia Irvine, wrote on Twitter.
Many believe the stores will be overrun with homeless people.
A Facebook user replied to the KCBS story, saying, "Yay it'll be a homeless camp. At lest [sic] we won't have to deal with them on the streets."
Some employees share that concern. One Starbucks employee, identified only as "Ayumi," told KCBS, "We get attacked a lot. I feel like, obviously, if you get attacked, then we have the right to say 'no' and we have the right to call the police."
"Starbucks has now become The neighborhood homeless & drug addiction shelter!" user MRWalls tweeted in response to the New York Times story about the move.
“You shouldn’t just be able to come in there and loiter all day,” Travis Gatlin told Arizona Central. “They’re not here to accommodate people that aren’t buying stuff, you know? They’re in it for the business and to make money.”