All Apple Stores outside China will be temporarily closed to help curb the spread of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“In our workplaces and communities, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Tim Cook wrote on Twitter early Saturday, March 14. “Apple will be temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and committing $15M to help with worldwide recovery.”
The move toward massive closures comes as Apple stores in China were reopened, and in the days following announcements of closures throughout Europe, including Spain and Italy, according to 9 to 5 Mac.
Here’s what you need to know:
Apple Wrote a Letter Announcing its Plans to Help Quash the Spread of Coronavirus & Close Stores Outside China
Apple announced it would be closing its stores outside greater China in the hours after schools were shut down in many states across the United States, major vacation spots like Disney World and Universal Studios announced closures, and President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency.
Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a letter addressed to “the worldwide Apple family” dated March 13, 2020, announcing the closure of stores.
The letter began:
To the worldwide Apple family,
The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting every one of us. At Apple, we are people first, and we do what we do with the belief that technology can change lives and the hope that it can be a valuable tool in a moment like this. Teachers are innovating to make remote lessons come alive. Companies are experimenting with new ways to stay productive. And medical experts can diagnose illnesses and reach millions with critical updates in the blink of an eye. We are all adapting and responding in our own way, and Apple wants to continue to play a role in helping individuals and communities emerge stronger.
But this global effort — to protect the most vulnerable, to study this virus, and to care for the sick — requires all of our care, and all of our participation. And I want to update you about the ways in which we are doing our part.
The company also announced that financial giving toward the global COVID-19 response reached $15 million Friday, and that the company is matching employee donations two to one. Those donations are helping to treat the sick and lessen the economic and community impacts of the pandemic, the press release said.
An Apple Employee in Santa Monica, California Tested Positive for Coronavirus
The closure of all Apple stores outside China came just hours after one of its employees tested positive for coronavirus at a Santa Monica store, according to Tech Crunch. The employee had been on leave since March 2 to care for a relative. The store remained open after Apple consulted with health experts and deep cleaned the store on Third Street.
A statement provided to Tech Cruch said:
Apple’s first priority — now and always — is the health and safety of our employees, customers and the communities we serve. An employee at our Third St. Promenade store in Santa Monica informed us they had tested positive for COVID-19 late yesterday. The employee has not been to the store since taking leave on March 2 to care for a relative.
In consultation with health experts, we’ve taken a number of steps to protect our teams and customers. All our stores around the world have increased deep cleaning protocols and we have actively reduced customer density in all stores worldwide by cancelling Today at Apple sessions and creating extra space for Genius Bar appointments. As a precaution, we also undertook an additional extensive deep clean overnight before reopening the Third St. Promenade store.
We recognize this is a challenging and ever changing time for our global community and our thoughts are with those around the world personally affected by COVID-19 and the heroic medical professionals and researchers fighting it.
Apple employees will be provided with flexible work accommodations and will be paid at their “business as usual operations” rate, the press release said. Employees are encouraged to work remotely if possible. Stores will also be deep cleaned, and the company plans to implement wellness checks and temperature checks.
Apple Stores in China Were Reopened as Spread of COVID-19 Declined
Just as Apple announced it would be closing its stores outside Greater China, Apple stores in China were reopened, according to the Apple press release. Apple stores outside China will be closed until March 27, or for about two weeks.
The press release said:
First, I want to recognize Apple’s family in Greater China. Though the rate of infections has dramatically declined, we know COVID-19’s effects are still being strongly felt. I want to express my deep gratitude to our team in China for their determination and spirit. As of today, all of our stores in Greater China have reopened. I also want to thank our operations team and partners for their remarkable efforts to restore our supply chain. What we’ve learned together has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response.
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. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.
The letter advised employees to work remotely if possible, and promised to provide flexible work arrangements. All of their offices will be deep cleaned, and they are rolling out health screenings and temperature checks.
The letter concluded:
There is no mistaking the challenge of this moment. The entire Apple family is indebted to the heroic first responders, doctors, nurses, researchers, public health experts and public servants globally who have given every ounce of their spirit to help the world meet this moment. 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. As President Lincoln said in a time of great adversity: ‘The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.’
That’s always how Apple has chosen to meet big challenges. And it’s how we’ll rise to meet this one, too.