Hours after Apple moved its annual developers conference online, the company now says it will close all of its stores outside of Greater China on worries.
Apple Stores around the globe will close until March 27, the company said. It also encouraged employees to work from home and said it has committed $15 million to help with recovery efforts. It will also match donations made directly by employees.
“In our workplaces and communities, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted late Friday. In a note posted on Apple’s newsroom, Cook said hourly workers would continue to be paid during the store closures.
The coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. The virus, known as 2019-nCoV, was reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31 and has been under investigation since. Chinese scientists have linked the disease to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses, which include the deadly SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome. The WHO has labeled the coronavirus a pandemic.
The disease has now spread to the US and caused President Donald J. Trump on Friday to. Schools have closed, Broadway has gone done and various other events and sporting events have been canceled or delayed. More than 1,600 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US, and there’s still a shortage of tests for the virus.
Earlier Friday, Apple said it would. The event, one of its biggest of the year, is where the company introduces its newest software features for its iPhones, Macs and various other devices. Apple hasn’t yet said when the online conference will be held.
“The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement. Apple counts 23 million registered developers in more than 155 countries.
Apple is just the latest in a string of companies shifting or canceling events as the coronavirus has spread around the world. Other companies like the internet giants Facebook and Google have also canceled their respective developer events, which were planned for the spring. Large organizations too have scuttled their plans, including the annual SXSW music and tech festival in Texas, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Even Disneyland shut down.
Coronavirus and Apple
Like many companies around the world, the coronavirus. The company last month warned that it likely will miss the quarterly revenue guidance it gave in January. It cited two reasons for the update: the coronavirus was hurting both demand from Chinese customers and production capabilities inside the country. China is one of Apple’s biggest markets and the primary location where its devices like the iPhone are assembled. Because factories are coming online later, there will be iPhone shortages around the globe, Apple said.
Apple in late Januaryto prevent the spread of coronavirus. The stores are now all opened, and they won’t be included in the new round of closures.
“What we’ve learned together [from the experience in China] has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response,” Cook said Friday in a post shared online. “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.”
Anyone who needs Apple support over the next two weeks can visit the company’s online support page, and its online store will remain open. It also will continue to pay its hourly workers as if stores were still open, Cook said, and it has expanded its medical leave policies to accommodate coronavirus-related issues.
Cook also said the company is moving to “flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China,” which means Apple employees should work remotely if their roles allow it. It’s rolling out new health screenings and temperature checks in its offices.
“There is no mistaking the challenge of this moment,” Cook said. “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.”
Originally published at 12:02 a.m. PT
Update, 12:19 a.m. PT: Adds background information and comments from Apple post.