BARRIE -- As the coronavirus continues to make headlines around the globe, companies like Starbucks and Tim Hortons are taking precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus.

You may have noticed signs by the cash registers at your favourite coffee chain that read something like, 'We are temporarily pausing the use of reusable cups.” It’s just one of the ways they are trying to protect customers and employees.

"We will continue to act thoughtfully and courageously despite the disruption and uncertainty COVID-19 brings to our daily lives," reads a statement by Starbucks president Rossann Williams on the company's website. "As part of communities worldwide, we are navigating this situation… [and] learning and adapting as new information is made available."

Experts say handwashing is the most effective way to protect yourself from Covid-19, which is why Starbucks and Tim Hortons alike have temporarily stopped accepting reusable cups.

Passing tumblers back and forth creates a lot of indirect hand contact, which they aim to eliminate.

Starbucks also paused its use of 'for here' mugs, plates and cutlery. It has also started regularly sanitizing all main points of contact like door handles, debit machines and tables.

Tim Hortons, on the other hand, hasn't stopped its use of china mugs, although it has started sanitizing every half-hour. It, too, sanitizes all main points of contact regularly. Tim Hortons has also cancelled its in-store roll-up-the-rim contest, leaving only the digital portion of the annual program running.

Global coffee chains like Starbucks have dedicated time over the years to try to be more environmentally-conscious. Last year they switched over to strawless lids to lower plastic straw waste. They've also encouraged customers to bring in their reusable coffee mugs for a 10-cent discount, which both Starbucks and Tim Horton's still honour, despite not accepting tumblers.

'Our commitment to sustainability remains unchanged,' read the signs posted in Starbucks cafes. 

"Our hope – as always – is that after this is over, partners will look back and say, 'I can't believe I work for a company that cared so much for me, my family and my community,'" stated Williams on the Starbucks website.