Apple has announced an unprecedented move in efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic affecting the globe—-it will close all retail stores outside of China until March 27, 2020, essentially a period of two weeks.
According to letter posted on the company’s website from CEO Tim Cook:
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.
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. Our online stores are open at www.apple.com, or you can download the Apple Store app on the App Store. For service and support, customers can visit support.apple.com. I want to thank our extraordinary Retail teams for their dedication to enriching our customers’ lives. We are all so grateful to you.
The announcement comes after Apple had just reopened all 42 of its retail stores in Greater China, which was the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So this means no access to your local Apple Store until March 27, 2020, including those in Canada. Apple recently cancelled its Today at Apple sessions at stores in Canada, the USA and Mexico, which may have been a hint further actions would be to combat COVID-19. Given how Apple Stores are always busy and buzzing wit activity, Apple’s response is to protect its employees and customers, it says.
Apple says it will continue to pay employees, as if normal operations were happening. The company will also be matching employee donations towards COVID-19 relief efforts 2 to 1, while Apple’s total contribution in fighting coronavirus has hit $15 million USD worldwide.
The company is rumoured to launch Powerbeats 4 and a refreshed MacBook Air later this month. This latest change most likely will have changed those timelines, as customers will only be able to shop online and not in stores.
“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,” concluded Cook.