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Coronavirus Leads To All Apple Stores Outside of China Being Closed For Two Weeks

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By Adreon Patterson

On Friday, Apple announced it would be shutting down nearly 500 of its retail stores worldwide, except for China, until March 27.

This announcement is part of the Alphabet Company's efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The move was announced in a statement by CEO Tim Cook.

The exclusion of China was due to the company has shut down its retail stores in that country in early February, with all 42 of them being reopened by March 13.

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In the company's statement, Cook revealed it had learned from its China experience that “the most effective way to minimize the 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.”

At the end of 2019, The Alphabet company had 510 retail stores worldwide. While retail stores are closed, the tech giant will continue to operate its online retail along with the App Store.

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The store closures might give Apple another blow to its already slumping sales for the current quarter, which ends March 28. In mid-February, the tech giant warned investors that it would miss revenue targets for the quarter due to coronavirus-related disruptions.

In China alone, iPhone sales plummeted 61% in February as the virus scare stopped many in its tracks.

On Thursday, Apple announced its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June would become an online-only event rather than its usual audience-filled presentation.

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Apple has taken other steps along with the store closure in its response to COVID-19.

The company is moving towards having “flexible work arrangements” for employees outside of Greater China. They believe employees “should work remotely if their job allows, and those whose work requires them to be on-site should follow guidance to maximize interpersonal space,” according to Cook's statement.

Cook mentioned that all hourly workers will continue to receive pay “in alignment with the business as usual operations."

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Apple has even gone as far as to pledge $15 million worldwide in aid to support the global COVID-19 response efforts. According to Cook, the company will match employee donations two-to-one to support response efforts to the pandemic locally, nationally and internationally.

The donations are a bright spot for the Alphabet company as it was recently revealed that the company would have to pay out over a $500 million settlement to customers for allegedly slowing down iPhones to force them to buy new ones.

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