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Apple to shut all stores outside of Greater China to curb coronavirus spread

·Editor focused on markets and the economy
·2 min read

Apple (AAPL) will shutter all of its retail stores outside of China until March 27, in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak that’s throttling the world economy and upending daily life.

In a letter on its website posted late Friday, the tech giant — which shut its outlets in China when the virus first began spreading there — announced a list of moves its making to prevent community spreading of COVID-19.

The biggest involves Apple closing most of its 500+ sleek, glass-encased outlets across 25 countries that bear its iconic logo. Instead, the company is directing customers online and to its app.

“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,” CEO Tim Cook wrote. “As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”

Apple plans “extensive, deep cleaning” at all of its locations, and will roll out new health screenings and temperature checks at its offices.

The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar
The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Companies big and small are sharply curtailing or shutting down operations in order to prevent further spreading of a disease that’s infected over 145,000 worldwide and killed more than 5,000. While new infections in China have declined sharply, Europe has now become the primary front in a worldwide battle to contain the pandemic.

Like other major companies — including Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN) — the iPhone maker is pushing employees to work remotely in order to reduce transmission of the highly communicable virus. Apple is also expanding its leave and pay policies to accommodate hourly workers, or those sickened by COVID-19.

“All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations,” Cook wrote.

“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,” he added.

As the disease gains a toehold in the U.S., businesses, states and localities have implemented social distancing tactics that involve bans on large gatherings, closing schools and allowing employees to work from home — with large, bustling cities starting to resemble ghost towns.

Javier David is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @TeflonGeek

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