Apple has announced it will be closing all of its stores outside of China until March 27 to limit the spread of coronavirus, officially called COVID-19.
The company says it has learned from its experiences in China, where the outbreak affected supply chains and factories. Although the supply chain has now been restored, Apple said in a statement that it is developing best practices to avoid the spread of disease: “One of those lessons [learned] is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”
Therefore, the company announced: “We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27.” Apple went on to say that its online store would remain open, and its Apple Store would be available on the App Store. Customers wanting help with their Apple products are directed to the support website.
The company has committed to continuing to pay its hourly workers as well as its salaried workers through this period, even if the stores where they work are closed. “All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations,” it said. It will also provide health leave for staff who are sick or who are caring for family members: “We have expanded our leave policies to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges due to school closures.”
In Apple offices outside of China, flexible working will be extended so employees can work remotely, and there will be health screening and temperature checks carried out on those who need to come into offices.
This news comes after Apple announced it would move its WWDC 2020 developer conference to an online-only event, also due to coronavirus concerns. The event will be held in June and will show off the latest versions of iOS and MacOS to developers, as usual. But no one will attend the event in person and the conference will be delivered in an online format.
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