At Least 56 COVID-19 Cases Result from an Outbreak at a Starbucks in South Korea

South Korea thought they were getting COVID-19 under control, but over the summer, they saw spikes in new cases. Now, there are at least 56 new cases traced back to one location – a Starbucks in Paju, South Korea.

One person who had COVID-19 entered the Starbucks location and sat down next to an air-conditioner unit. It was a hot, humid day, and the air-conditioner was circulating air throughout the restaurant. 

There were four employees on staff while the contagious person was in the restaurant. All of these employees wore face masks and gloves. None of them got sick.

Officials say that many customers who were inside Starbucks at the same time as the contagious person ended up testing positive for coronavirus, and even more people ended up getting sick from the people who caught the virus while at Starbucks.


Jeong Eun-kyeong is chief of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), and he told local media, “Many of the visitors didn’t wear masks, and there seems to be no proper air ventilation at the store even though air conditioners were in operation due to humid weather.”

We do not know for sure if the customers caught COVID-19 because they weren’t wearing masks, but it is a strong possibility. Jeong Eun-kyeong also believes that it could be possible that the customers picked up the germs from touching contaminated surfaces. He said, “Even if infections did not occur via aerosol transmission, droplet transmission is also possible in a confined space, and the virus could have spread via hand contact.”

Due to this recent coronavirus outbreak, officials in South Korea are mandating stronger social distancing measures and requiring people to wear face masks.

It is interesting to note that the employees didn’t get sick. The main difference between the employees and the customers was that the employees were wearing face masks. Granted, it would be hard (perhaps impossible) to drink a Starbucks beverage while wearing a face mask, but it certainly seems to be another example of how effective wearing a face mask can be.

Does it surprise you that so many people would get sick from one person visiting a Starbucks for just a couple hours?