Realising that new coronavirus is fast spreading wherever there are gatherings of any kind, Apple CEO Tim Cook on Saturday announced to temporarily close all retail stores outside of Greater China till March 27, along with committing $15 million to help with global recovery. Apple has opened all 42 retail stores in China after the new coronavirus situation improved in that country but had shut outlets in Spain and Italy.
"We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27. We are committed to providing exceptional service to our customers. Our online stores are open at www.apple.com, or you can download the Apple app on the App Store," Cook said in a statement.
For service and support, customers can visit support.apple.com. Earlier, a US retail store at Willow Grove Park in Pennsylvania was closed on orders from the state's governor, reports Apple Insider. Pennsylvania has shut down schools, community centres, gyms and entertainment venues in Montgomery County for two weeks.
The increase in retail locations
Over the years, Apple has expanded the number of retail locations and its geographical coverage, with over 500 stores across 25 countries worldwide. Cook said at all of the offices, "we are moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China".
"That means team members should work remotely if their job allows, and those whose work requires them to be on-site should follow guidance to maximize interpersonal space. Extensive, deep cleaning will continue at all sites. In all our offices, we are rolling out new health screenings and temperature checks," the Apple CEO informed.
"We're also announcing that we are matching our employee donations two-to-one to support COVID-19 response efforts locally, nationally and internationally," he added. Apple said its hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business operations as usual.
"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," said Cook.
Apple News has launched a new COVID-19 section, where users can find the latest verified reporting from trusted news outlets. The company has announced that its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will be in an entirely new online format this year.