Apple Inc. said Saturday it’s closing its hundreds of retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and is moving to remote work in order to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
In a letter posted on Apple’s website, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said that the “most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” which led to the decision to temporarily close the stores and move corporate employees outside of Greater China to work remotely.
The letter read;
To the worldwide Apple family,
The global spread of COVID-19 is affecting every one of us. At Apple, we are people first, and we do what we do with the belief that technology can change lives and the hope that it can be a valuable tool in a moment like this. Teachers are innovating to make remote lessons come alive. Companies are experimenting with new ways to stay productive. And medical experts can diagnose illnesses and reach millions with critical updates in the blink of an eye. We are all adapting and responding in our own way, and Apple wants to continue to play a role in helping individuals and communities emerge stronger.
But this global effort — to protect the most vulnerable, to study this virus, and to care for the sick — requires all of our care, and all of our participation. And I want to update you about the ways in which we are doing our part.
Apple’s committed donations to the global COVID-19 response — both to help treat those who are sick and to help lessen the economic and community impacts of the pandemic — today reached $15 million worldwide.
We’re also announcing that we are matching our employee donations two-to-one to support COVID-19 response efforts locally, nationally and internationally.
In Our Offices and Stores
First, I want to recognize Apple’s family in Greater China. 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. As of today, all of our stores in Greater China have reopened. I also want to thank our operations team and partners for their remarkable efforts to restore our supply chain. What we’ve learned together has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response.
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.
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 maximize 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.
For Our Users and Partners
We know our users depend on Apple products all the time, and especially in times like these. We’re bringing the same creativity and passion to meeting this challenge that we do in everything else we undertake.
Apple News has launched a new COVID-19 section, where users can be sure that they can find the latest verified reporting from trusted news outlets.
As you may have seen, our annual Worldwide Developers Conference will be in an entirely new online format this year. We see this as an opportunity to bring together developers around the world in an innovative way.
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.
And yet I have been inspired by the humanity and determination I have seen from all corners of our global community. As President Lincoln said in a time of great adversity: “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”
That’s always how Apple has chosen to meet big challenges. And it’s how we’ll rise to meet this one, too.