Apple in an announcement yesterday detailed its official responses to the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the measures includes temporarily closing all its brick-and-mortar retails stores around the world, except for Greater China, until Friday, March 27.

Apple’s open letter to the community, signed by CEO Tim Cook, states that the store closures are meant to help curb spread of the virus by increasing social distance and reducing density.

Cook was quoted as saying the following:

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.

Apple previously closed all of its retail stores in Italy and Spain, which have become hotbeds of coronavirus infections. With yesterday’s announcement, the Cupertino tech giant is not only closing all of its retail stores in the US but also all of its other stores outside of China.

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

At the same time, the company said all of its stores in Greater China have reopened now as the country has successfully contained the virus. With that said, Apple customers can purchase products through the official Apple Store app and via the online Apple Stores around the world.

Cook then went on to quote President Lincoln who said that 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,” Cook wrapped up, adding: “And it’s how we’ll rise to meet this one, too.”

The CEO highlighted other proactive measures Apple is taking to help contain the virus spread:

  • Donations: Apple donated $15 million to the global COVID-19 response. Furthermore, the Cupertino company will match employee donations two-to-one.
  • Remote working: Apple is encouraging its global employees to work from home whenever possible, with hourly workers continuing to receive pay for their work.
  • Leave polices: Apple’s leave policies cover recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining or childcare challenges due to school closures.
  • WWDC 2020: As announced earlier, this year’s WWDC will be an online experience. There’s going to be a keynote and developer sessions, with related videos being likely streamed via the Apple Developer app. Apple’s yet to provide further details.
  • Apple News coverage: A special COVID-19 section in the News app provides the latest verified reporting from trusted news outlets.

The announcement omits other measures Apple and its partners are taking in the wake of the pandemic, like temporarily shutting down production on all active Apple TV+ series and postponing all online training seminars for authorized technicians.

Apple’s announcement is pasted below in full.

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.

Giving Back

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.

Looking Ahead

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.

Tim

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Image: Apple’s retail store in the Zorlu Center in Istanbul, Turkey