As the coronavirus crisis continues to disrupt daily life and drive people to their homes, governments across the United States have shut down restaurants and bars for an indefinite period in order to slow the spread of the virus. Many companies in the hospitality industry like Starbucks have shifted to drive-thru, delivery, or take-out systems only in order to stay in business and continue to pay workers — but even the future of these models is uncertain, as threats of shelters-in-place loom across the country.
This weekend, however, CEO and President of Starbucks Kevin Johnson announced that the company will continue to pay all partners for the next 30 days regardless of whether they come into work or their stores stay open, a representative for Starbucks confirmed to PEOPLE.
In a letter posted to the Starbucks website on Sunday, Johnson explained that he wants his company to lead by example during this time and doesn’t want employees to have to choose between work and health. “I am inspired by our Starbucks store partners around the world who proudly wear the green apron and who are rising to the occasion. They demonstrate our resilience and our commitment to the communities we serve,” he wrote.
Starting today, we have temporarily closed our US and Canada in-store cafes, but select grocery and Drive Thru locations remain open. Starbucks Delivers on Uber Eats is also available in select markets. 💚
For the latest updates, please visit: https://t.co/WMpwMyUw5f. pic.twitter.com/qfbLg3IdLS
“I believe it is the responsibility of every business to care for its employees during this time of uncertainty, shared sacrifice, and common cause,” he added. “I hope to see many business leaders across this country doing all they can to retain jobs, pay employees, continue benefits, and demonstrate compassion as they make critical decisions. Not every decision is a financial one.”
Rossann Williams, Starbucks’ executive vice president and president of the U.S. company-operated business and Canada, also introduced Service Pay to all partners working through this period “as show of gratitude, appreciation and recognition for the courage they are displaying for their communities.”
The service grants partners who are able and choose to come to work an additional $3 per hour for scheduled shifts through April 19. If someone decides not to work during this time, they can use catastrophe pay through the same date.
The company’s pledge to continue to support workers amid coronavirus concerns and potential shop closures comes after numerous other restaurants have announced precautionary measures in stores.
Some chains like 7-Eleven and Domino’s are looking to hire tens of thousands of additional workers to meet rising demands across the United States, while grocery stores like Trader Joe’s are setting up “special bonus pools” and paying their workers — who have been deemed “essential” — extra based on their hours worked during the recent sales period.
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As of March 23, there have been at least 33,018 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 428 deaths in the United States, according to The New York Times. The majority of the cases are in New York, Washington state, and California.
The CDC says the best prevention methods are basic forms of hygiene — careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing, and staying home at signs of illness.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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