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Apple closes all stores outside Greater China amid coronavirus outbreak

By Catherine Wylie, PA

Apple is closing all stores outside Greater China until March 27 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm said the most effective way to minimise risk of the virus’s transmission is to “reduce density and maximise social distance”.

It comes after the technology giant cancelled the in-person aspects of its annual developer conference in response to the outbreak.

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.

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.

“That means team members should work remotely if their job allows, and those whose work requires them to be on site should follow guidance to maximise interpersonal space.

“Extensive deep cleaning will continue at all sites. In all our offices, we are rolling out new health screenings and temperature checks.

“All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business-as-usual operations.

“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.”

Apple stores in Greater China reopened on Saturday.