Starbucks is temporarily suspending its popular "Happy Hour" promotion due to the rise of coronavirus cases in the United States.
The coffee chain usually announces special "Happy Hour" days every few weeks. The wildly popular events always fall on a Thursday and last from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. local time.
"Given the rise in cases and the current guidance from the scientific community to not gather indoors in large groups for prolonged periods of time, we decided to pause Happy Hours in December and January 7," a Starbucks spokesperson told TODAY in an email.
The decision to pause the promotion comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and the total death toll in the United States surpassed 300,000 people.
While Happy Hour is on hiatus, Starbucks plans to reward customers with other perks, such as Double Star Days. Stars are earned when a customer pays for a food or beverage item via the Starbucks app. Those stars can then be redeemed at very levels for free upgrades, drinks, food and merchandise.
In a letter to Starbucks employees earlier this month, Rosann Williams, president of U.S. company-operated business, said the coffee chain will always prioritize safety first.
"We will always prioritize your safety and in this moment, we all have a role and responsibility — as Starbucks partners — to protect each other, our customers and our business as we navigate this pandemic." she wrote.
Starbucks has taken precautions throughout the pandemic, including reducing hours and closing seating areas in some locations to help prevent the spread of the virus. The coffee chain also has drive-thru windows at some stores and mobile ordering via its app, which enables customers to order ahead and quickly pick up their caffeine fix.
Earlier this month, Starbucks also announced a promotion to show its appreciation for front-line workers by giving them a free tall hot or iced coffee.
Those eligible for the free tall coffee include front-line health care providers and first responders, such as doctors, nurses, public health workers, pharmacists, dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, dentists and dental hygienists, mental health workers, hospital staff and active-duty military. No official ID is necessary.
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