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Starbucks commits to paying all workers for 30 days — even if they don't go to work during coronavirus

Americans adjust to life amid coronavirus pandemic
Americans adjust to life amid coronavirus pan... 01:48

As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies across the U.S., many restaurants and cafes have switched to drive-thru, delivery and take-out only systems — but still, some workers feel uncomfortable putting their health at risk to come to work. This week, Starbucks said it would pay all of its employees for the next month, even if they choose to stay home

As unemployment claims surge, Starbucks CEO and President Kevin Johnson announced this week his commitment to pay all workers in the U.S. and Canada for the next 30 days, regardless of whether they come into work or the stores they work at temporarily close.

"We believe no [employee] should be asked to choose between work and their health," he said in a company blog post.

On Friday, Starbucks closed all stores to customers and shifted strictly to a drive-thru and delivery model. It hopes to keep a number of stores open despite possible shelter-in-place orders to continue serving people in need, especially health care workers. 

"It is the responsibility of every business to care for its employees during this time of uncertainty, shared sacrifice, and common cause," Johnson said. "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," he added. 

Starbucks in January temporarily closed 2,000 restaurants across China — roughly half its shops in the country — due to the outbreak that had been centered in the city of Wuhan.

"These are the actions we know are effective based on our experience in China," Rossann Williams, executive vice president at Starbucks and the president of U.S. retail operations, said of the company's measures in the U.S. to contain the virus.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. hit more than 50,000, with at least 600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. now has the third-highest number of cases, behind China and Italy.

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