Coronavirus: Apple closes stores outside China, to hold online-only WWDC
Following President Trump's emergency declaration over coronavirus pandemic, Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced the decision to close down all company stores outside of Greater China. The move, Cook says, has been taken as part of a series of measures the Cupertino giant has planned to combat the outbreak of the virus, which has already claimed over 5,000 lives, around the world. Here's more.
In a letter posted online, Cook noted that COVID-19 infection rates have "dramatically declined" in China but are growing in other parts of the world. As such, all the retail stores in China have been reopened, while those outside the country are being closed for a period of two weeks - which is until March 27 - with immediate effect.
As all the physical outlets around the world go through the downtime, the online store of Apple will remain accessible to customers, Cook said in the letter. "Our online stores are open at www.apple.com, or you can download the Apple Store app on the App Store," Cook wrote, while noting that service and support would be provided online through support.apple.com.
Apple's action comes in a bid to increase social distancing and prevent people from gathering at its stores, which can result in unintended transmissions, further increasing the number of cases around the world. Prior to this, the company had closed only select stores and removed chairs/stools to keep people from crowding its outlets. Disinfection practices had also been bolstered.
Among other things, Cook said that employees affected by store closures will continue to get paid as usual. He also said that the company has expanded its "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."
Lastly, Cook emphasized that they will be holding WWDC 2020 in an online-only format to dodge the outbreak. There are not many details of the event but expect the show - complete with a keynote and developer sessions - to take place through live-streamed sessions. "We see this as an opportunity to bring together developers around the world in an innovative way," he concluded.