March 2, 2024

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Apple closes all US stores until further notice on coronavirus worries


Apple’s US stores are closed indefinitely.

James Martin/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Apple is keeping all of its stores outside of Greater China shuttered until further notice due to coronavirus concerns. It previously said Apple Stores around the globe will close until March 27, but the banner on its US site has since been amended to make the closures indefinite, as noted by 9to5Mac.

The banner isn’t appearing on the UK or Australian sites, and Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The Cupertino, California, company encouraged employees to work from home and said it’s committed $15 million to help with recovery efforts. It’ll also match donations made directly by employees.

“In our workplaces and communities, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted late Friday. In a note posted to Apple’s newsroom, Cook said hourly workers would continue to be paid during the store closures. 

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WWDC 2020 will be online only


The coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. The virus, known as 2019-nCoV, was reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31 and has been under investigation since. Chinese scientists have linked the disease to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses, which include SARS and MERS. The World Health Organization labeled the coronavirus a pandemic.

The disease has now spread to the US, causing President Donald Trump on Friday to declare a state of emergency. Schools have closed, Broadway theaters have shut down, and various other activities and sporting events have been canceled or delayed. The San Francisco Bay Area also went on lockdown from midnight Tuesday. More than 4,600 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US, and there’s still a shortage of tests for the virus. 

On Friday, Apple said it would hold its Worldwide Developers Conference online only. The event, one of its biggest of the year, is where the company introduces its newest software features for its iPhones, Macs and various other devices. Apple hasn’t yet said when the online conference will be held. 

“The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement. Apple counts 23 million registered developers in more than 155 countries.

Apple is just the latest in a string of companies shifting or canceling events as the coronavirus has spread around the world. Other companies, like the internet giants Facebook and Google, have also canceled their respective developer events, which were planned for the spring. Large organizations too have scuttled their plans, including the annual SXSW music and tech festival in Texas, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Even Disneyland shut down.

Coronavirus and Apple

Like many companies around the world, the coronavirus has been hurting Apple’s operations. The company last month warned that it likely will miss the quarterly revenue guidance it gave in January. It cited two reasons for the update: The coronavirus was hurting both demand from Chinese customers and production capabilities inside the country. China is one of Apple’s biggest markets and the primary location where its devices like the iPhone are assembled. Because factories are coming online later, there’ll be iPhone shortages around the globe, Apple said. 

Apple in late January closed its stores in China to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The stores are now all opened, and they won’t be included in the new round of closures. 

“What we’ve learned together [from the experience in China] has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response,” Cook said Friday in a post shared online. “One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance.”

Anyone who needs Apple support can visit the company’s online support page, and its online store will remain open. The company also will continue to pay its hourly workers as if stores were still open, Cook said, and it has expanded its medical leave policies to accommodate coronavirus-related issues. 

Cook also said the company is moving to “flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China,” which means Apple employees should work remotely if their roles allow it. It’s rolling out new health screenings and temperature checks in its offices. 

“There is no mistaking the challenge of this moment,” Cook said. “We do not yet know with certainty when the greatest risk will be behind us. … And yet I have been inspired by the humanity and determination I have seen from all corners of our global community.”

CNET’s Sean Keane contributed to this report.

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