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Chipotle to briefly close all restaurants on Feb. 8

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NEW YORK — Chipotle is shutting down all its stores nationwide for a few hours next month to hold staff meetings about food safety.

The meeting will occur on February 8.

Chipotle has suffered from several outbreaks of E. coli , salmonella and norovirus that poisoned customers and caused its stock price to plunge more than a third over the last three months.

The trouble began in August when 64 customers in Minnesota were infected with Salmonella and about 100 people were struck by norovirus in southern California.

These infections were followed by an E. coli outbreak in October and November that affected 53 people in nine states.

In December, Chipotle suffered from two more outbreaks. Roughly 140 students at Boston college were infected with norovirus and a second new incidence of E. coli broke out affecting five people in three states.

Some customers are suing Chipotle.

The company has projected an 8% drop in sales for the fourth quarter. Chipotle will provide its quarterly financial results on February 2.

But CEO Steve Ells said earlier this week that he was “hopeful” the Centers for Disease Control would soon declare that the outbreaks were over.

“We know that Chipotle is as safe as it’s ever been before,” said Ells on Jan. 13 at a conference in Orlando.

He said that Chipotle is planning to lure back customers with a new marketing campaign in February.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said there hasn’t been an E. coli case in two months. Since then, the company says it’s been serving a million customers a day “without incident.”