Apple is shutting down its stores outside China for two weeks and will only sell online as part of efforts to combat the global viral pandemic.
“In our workplaces and communities, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” CEO Tim Cook tweeted Saturday. “Apple will be temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and committing $15M to help with worldwide recovery.”
Cook said Apple’s Chinese stores have all now reopened, and what the company has learned there has helped it build “best practices that greatly assist in our global response.”
One of the lessons Apple learned in China is that “the most effective way to minimize the risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” he said. That’s why the company is taking new steps to protect workers and customers as the infection rate rises in other places. Apple’s online stores remain open. Workers will continue to be paid and office staff will work remotely if possible, Cook said in the statement issued Friday.
The announcement came hours after Apple said it would hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference this year entirely online. Thousands of engineers and customers attend the gathering that is in its 31st year in San Jose, California.