The company is shutting down its shops outside Greater China until March 27 in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19. Apple said the most effective way to minimise the risk of the deadly virus’s transmission is to “reduce density and maximise social distance”.
The firm has also pledged to donate $15million (£12.2million) to help the coronavirus response.
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 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.
“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.”
It comes after the company cancelled the in-person aspects of its annual developer conference amid the pandemic.
The Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) had been due to take place in San Jose, California, in June, but will move to an “online format” instead of several days of public gatherings.
Meanwhile, Apple stores in Greater China reopened on Saturday.
More than 138,000 people around the world have been infected by the virus, which broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and 5,000 have died.
In the UK, there have been 798 confirmed cases with the death toll at 11.
On Friday, the World Health Organisation said Europe had become the epicentre of the pandemic.
And US President Donald Trump indicated he might add the UK to a list of European countries facing a US travel ban.
Meanwhile, Disneyland closed its parks, including Disneyland Paris, until the end of the month.
And four major cruise ship companies – Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC Cruises – agreed to suspend trips from the US for 30 days.
Boris Johnson is set to make a U-turn with plans to ban mass gatherings across the UK from next week.
It follows criticism of the Prime Minister for not taking more dramatic action to combat the killer bug.
Published at Sat, 14 Mar 2020 09:53:00 +0000