For the next two weeks, Apple will close all of its stores outside of China worldwide to counter the coronavirus pandemic.
The technology company, which has hundreds of shops around the world including dozens in the UK, confirmed it is shutting outlets to reduce the risk of infection from the disease.
As the virus grips the nation, the company’s chief executive, Tim Cook, announced the closures adding that “we will do whatever we can to prevent Covid-19 from spreading.”
More than 2,200 people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus and 50 died on Friday at midnight. About 140,000 people worldwide have tested positive and more than 5,000 have died.
Apple stores in greater China, where coronavirus originated, reopened Saturday and will be exempted from shutdown as new cases are slowing in the country.
This comes after Apple has already changed its presence to an “online environment” instead of multiple days of public meetings at the Worldwide Developer Conference in California in June.
Cook tweeted: “We will do whatever we can to avoid the spread ofCovid-19 in our workplaces and societies. Apple will temporarily shut all stores outside Greater China before March 27 and devote $15 million (£ 12.25 million) to assist with global recovery.
“In a statement, the company added:” As new infection levels start to grow elsewhere, we are taking additional measures to protect our team”.
Although the temporary closures are in place, Apple will continue to pay its wages to its hourly retail staff.
It has also expanded its leave policies, which would include recovery from sickness, caring for children, mandatory quarantine or those who have to look after their kids during school closures.
“We are switching to flexible work structures outside of Greater China in all of our offices worldwide. That means team members can work remotely if their job allows, and those whose work requires them to be on the spot will obey instructions to optimize interpersonal space”.
Both sites must have to undergo comprehensive, deep cleaning. We are carrying out new safety screenings and temperature controls in all of our offices,’ Cook said.
Cook said the organization would match two-to – one employee contributions to help with’ worldwide rehabilitation’ and campaign that has now reached $15 million, in addition to the immediate steps.