Washington DC, March 15, 2020: As the total number of global coronavirus cases surpassed 5,000 on Saturday, US-based multinational software tech giant Apple Co. announced to close down all its stores worldwide except those in China until March 27 in response to the infection outbreak.
"Apple will be temporarily closing all stores outside of Greater China until March 27 and committing $15M to help with worldwide recovery," Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted. According to a statement issued by Cook's office, the company is moving to flexible work arrangements in all of its offices worldwide except China, adding that its online stores will remain open.
"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. In all our offices, we are rolling out new health screenings and temperature checks." said Tim Cook, adding that "the most effective way to minimize the risk of the virus's transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance," Xinhua reported.
The Apple CEO further noted that since the infection rates in China have dramatically declined, all Apple stores in China have reopened.
"I want to express my deep gratitude to our team in China for their determination and spirit... I also want to thank our operations team and partners for their remarkable efforts to restore our supply chain."
The Cupertino, California-based tech giant also confirmed in the statement that the annual Worldwide Developers Conference will be "in an entirely new online format this year." The company expects this as an opportunity to bring together developers around the world in an innovative way.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that Europe has become the new 'epicentre' of the global coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 15 lakh people with over 4000 deaths.