Apple closes most stores in effort to curb virus spread

Company has reopened stores that closed in China

An Apple store at 767 5th Avenue (Credit: Wikipedia)
An Apple store at 767 5th Avenue (Credit: Wikipedia)

Apple is closing all of its stores outside of greater China for the next two weeks in order to try and help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Company CEO Tim Cook posted a letter to Apple’s website Saturday announcing that stores will be closed through March 27, Bloomberg reported.

Cook noted that all of the stores in greater China that had closed are now opened, and Apple is taking what it learned in that country and applying it to help curb the contagion.

“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,” Cook wrote. “As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”

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Apple’s employees will also start working remotely, and Cook wrote that hourly workers will continue to receive pay.

The company has about 460 locations outside China, including 270 stores in the United States.

Apple has 11 stores in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan including its flagship location at the base of the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue, which reopened in September after a lengthy renovation.

Retail is one of the earliest and hardest hit sectors to feel the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as shoppers and store operators alike are employing  social distancing techniques to curb the expansion. In countries where the virus spread earlier like Singapore, struggling retailers are urging landlords to give them rent breaks.

Mall real estate investment trusts took a pounding on Wall Street. And in New York, the city’s largest Chinese restaurant temporarily closed on Thursday. [Bloomberg] — Rich Bockmann