Apple is temporarily closing all of its retail stores “outside of Greater China” until March 27th, CEO Tim Cook announced in a letter posted on the company’s website late Friday night. “The most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” Cook wrote. “We are committed to providing exceptional service to our customers.”
The nationwide closure is among the first from a major retailer in the United States. But this extends far beyond the US, with every Apple location globally shutting down effective immediately — except for those in China.
Apple’s online store will remain operational (as will the Apple Store app) during the downtime for physical retail locations, and customers seeking customer support can visit support.apple.com to find authorized repair shops that remain open or arrange mail-in service.
Apple’s “committed donations” to COVID-19 have reached $15 million, according to Cook, and the company will be “matching our employee donations two-to-one to support COVID-19 response efforts locally, nationally and internationally.” Like other large companies with a worldwide presence, Apple is strongly encouraging employees to work from home if their job allows for it.
Apple recently reopened the China stores it closed soon after the initial spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. “Though the rate of infections has dramatically declined, we know COVID-19’s effects are still being strongly felt. I want to express my deep gratitude to our team in China for their determination and spirit,” Cook said in his note.