Coronavirus News: Starbucks gives free coffee to first responders, medical workers

NEW YORK (WABC) -- For health care workers and first responders battling the coronavirus pandemic, your cup of Starbucks is on the house.

The company announced Wednesday that its stores would offer free daily coffees for anyone who identifies as a "front-line" responder in the battle against COVID-19 from now through May 3.

"It is the responsibility of every business to care for its employees during this time of uncertainty, shared sacrifice, and common cause," CEO Kevin Johnson wrote in a letter to customers.

The coffee giant also announced a $500,000 donation to front-line responders and has pledged to pay workers what he calls "catastrophe pay" for at least a month if they choose to stay home from work due to social distancing.

"I'm inspired by our Starbucks store partners around the world who proudly wear the green apron and who are rising to the occasion," he said about the staff of his coffee empire.

If you're not a first responder but still need a jolt, there are some changes to business as usual. Starbucks has eliminated dine-in service at all locations in the U.S. and Canada through at least the first week of April.

Customers can still get a buzz and a biscuit via takeout, drive-through and delivery.

Stores in high foot-traffic areas, like malls and college campuses, are closed completely, but Starbucks locations in and around hospitals will stay open.
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