Due to the national coin shortage and COVID-19, cash should be used less commonly


In January, I started working at Starbucks. In April, my store closed due to COVID-19. A month later my store reopened but with many restrictions put in place by our corporate office. We were (and still are) required to wear masks, take daily temperatures and hand out every drink to customers so they don’t grab another customer’s drink. We can’t take drinks back to remake them after a customer has touched them, and customers also can’t grab their own straws, stir sticks or sugar. A timer goes off every 30 minutes telling us all to wash our hands. 

It is a very different workplace now in comparison to how it was when I started.

However, after all of the restrictions to keep my fellow Starbucks employees safe were put in place, no rules were ever made about handling cash. At the height of the pandemic, many businesses opted to not accept cash, and many still have this policy in place. These policies not only come from precautions revolving around COVID-19 but also from the coin shortage currently happening in the United States. Due to the lack of cash transactions, coins have stopped circulating, leaving many cash drawers short of necessary coins.

Fortunately, my Starbucks store has not been greatly affected by the shortage. However, as someone who works a register and frequently comes in contact with cash, I greatly appreciate when people opt to use other payment methods. Even if it’s just paying with a card, it is still greatly appreciated. I always hold out the card reader to make sure that the customer does not have to hand me their card. 

Cash touches the hands of thousands, making it unsafe to touch, especially during our current circumstances. Many large retail and restaurant chains have applications that customers can use to pay, while also giving them rewards for using the app. These are great alternatives to not paying with cash, and they offer special perks to users. They are also helpful to employees since all we need to do is scan a code with a reader. 

All in all, while cash is a handy way to pay, we need to start migrating away from using it to protect essential workers like myself and my coworkers. Because while your Pumpkin Spice Latte is very important to me, so too is my health.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Clare Dierckman at [email protected]

Click here to see more of Clare’s work. Use this link to learn more about the coin shortage.