Apple closes stores worldwide in response to coronavirus pandemic
14 March 2020, 08:55 | Updated: 14 March 2020, 08:58
Apple is set to close all stores outside Greater China until 27 March "to protect our team" in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The tech giant's CEO Tim Cook made the announcement via Twitter on Saturday, saying the most effective way to minimise risk of spread is to "reduce density and maximise social distance."
It comes after the firm cancelled the in-person aspects of its annual developer conference in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) was set to take place in San Jose, California, in June.
However, with governments around the world reacting to the pandemic, the company will move the conference to an "online format" instead of several days of public gatherings.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook tweeted: "In our workplaces and communities, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Apple will be temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and committing $15M to help with worldwide recovery."
In our workplaces and communities, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Apple will be temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and committing $15M to help with worldwide recovery. https://t.co/ArdMA43cFJ— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 14, 2020
In a statement, Apple said: "As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we're taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.
"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.
"In all of our 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 maximise interpersonal space.
"Extensive deep cleaning will continue at all sites. In all our offices, we are rolling out new health screenings and temperature checks.
"All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business-as-usual operations.
"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."
Apple stores reopened in China on Saturday as the country continued to ease the lockdown on Hubei, where the virus is believed to have originated.