Apple is shutting all 42 of its retail stores in China, plus other corporate locations, for at least eight days as a result of the spreading coronavirus, the iPhone maker said on Saturday.
“Our thoughts are with the people most immediately affected by the Coronavirus and with those working around the clock to study and contain it,” Apple said.
“Out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts, we’re closing all our corporate offices, stores and contact centres in mainland China through February 9.”
Apple said its online stores would remain open and that it hoped to reopen its stores “as soon as possible”.
Similar disruption is taking place across the country, freezing up parts of the tech supply chain and generating uncertainty. As of Saturday the virus had infected nearly 12,000 people in China — more than the worldwide total of the Sars virus — of which 259 had died.
Factories that produce the iPhone, run by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, are not affected by the move. The company saw its biggest share price fall in almost 20 years on Thursday.
Apple described the move as voluntary, whereas earlier in the week Tesla said its Shanghai production factory would close for up to 1.5 weeks because of a “government-required factory shutdown.”
Six Chinese provinces had earlier mandated that the return to work after the Lunar New Year be delayed by a week to February 10 for all but essential industries
On Tuesday, Apple released solid holiday quarter earnings but issued “wider-than-usual” revenue guidance for global sales to account for “uncertainty related to the recently unfolding public health situation in China.”
Chief executive Tim Cook had said that “one store had been closed,” while “many” others had “reduced operating hours.”
Mr Cook had also said that Apple has suppliers in the Wuhan area and that the company was “working on mitigation plans to make up any expected production loss.”
In line with the government mandates, he said some factories that been expected to open in late January after Chinese new year were instead opening on February 10. “And we’ve attempted to account for this delayed start-up through our larger range of [revenue] outcomes.”
Apple employs about 10,000 people in China and they will continue to be paid as normal.
Apple declined to offer more detail on what the temporary closures would mean in terms of loss of revenues.