Apple shuts all stores outside China on coronavirus fears

Apple is closing all of its retail stores outside of Greater China for two weeks to help contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Tim Cook, Apple chief executive, made the announcement on Friday night just a day after the company reopened all 42 of its stores in China. Some of the Chinese stores had been shut for about six weeks.

Earlier this week the iPhone maker shut all 17 of its stores in Italy. The Italian government locked down the entire country, which is the worst affected country in Europe with 17,760 confirmed cases. The virus has claimed more than 1,200 lives in Italy.

Mr Cook explained Apple had taken the decision to shut most of its stores across the world after taking note of the efforts in China to contain the disease in China.

“One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimise risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximise social distance,” Mr Cook said.

“As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”

The number of new cases in China, where the virus originated, has fallen dramatically in the past few days. There are more than 145,000 confirmed cases across the world, with almost 81,000 cases in China.

The stores will be closed until March 27, Apple said. Initially, stores in China were only meant to close for eight days.

“We do not yet know with certainty when the greatest risk will be behind us,” Mr Cook added.

Apple was among the first multinational companies to issue a revenue warning, on February 17, as a result of the virus. Its market capitalisation is $200bn lower than its peak in early February, at $1.22tn.

When markets rebounded on Friday, Apple’s stock rose 12 per cent.

[optin-cat id=7010]