Apple told its Chinese employees that although it would be working on reopening its corporate offices and contact centres in the country next week, retail stores would remain closed until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement, reported by MacGeneration, was made by Deidre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president for retail and people. In a note to employees, O’Brien said that Apple had been in “constant consultation” with public health experts, government authorities and its teams and leaders in China. She stated Apple would begin reopening its corporate offices and contact centers next week, which is in line with the company’s first announcement issued at the beginning of the month. In that statement, Apple announced that it would close its offices, contact centers and stores until Feb. 9.
Nonetheless, O’Brien said that Apple’s retail stores would not open, and that a later reopening date would be determined next week.
“Additional cleaning, health protocols and local restrictions around public spaces will factor into this decision,” O’Brien said in the note. “Retail teams will receive updates from their managers on the opening date for their store and on other supportive steps we are taking.”
You can read O’Brien’s full note to employees below, per Apple Insider.
Team, I want to thank every one of you for the care, flexibility and spirit you have shown over the past few weeks. Around the world, the entire Apple family stands committed to helping our colleagues, communities, suppliers, partners and customers in China as they care for their health and return to daily life. Apple’s support for the global coronavirus response is broad and ongoing, including our donation to the public health effort.
Since my last note, we have been in constant consultation with public health experts, government authorities and our teams and leaders in China. In light of those conversations, I want to share new information about Apple’s workplaces.
We are working toward reopening Apple’s Corporate Offices and Contact Centers in China next week. We recognize that personal movement and travel restrictions are ongoing and schools are closed in many places, and managers will be working with their teams to offer additional support. You will receive a follow up communication shortly with more information.
Apple’s Retail Stores are actively working to reopen at a date that will be determined next week. Additional cleaning, health protocols and local restrictions around public spaces will factor into this decision. Retail teams will receive updates from their managers on the opening date for their store and on other supportive steps we are taking.
Individual business leaders will be reaching out to you soon with more information relevant to your work. In addition to your manager, your People Business Partner and People Support are your resource for any questions you may have. To stay up to date with Apple’s efforts, please continue to check the dedicated coronavirus page we’ve created on the People site.
As we work together to gradually resume work over the next few weeks, your well-being is our first priority. We are deeply grateful to everyone for facing this challenging period with the utmost empathy and understanding.
Apple began taking major measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak in January. That month, CEO Tim Cook announced that the company had limited employee travel to China to “business critical” matters” and had closed or reduced operating hours at its stores. Apple also began deep cleaning its stores on a frequent basis and checking the temperatures of the employees that worked there.
Cook has stated that Apple is preparing for its production and revenues to be affected by the outbreak. On Saturday, the Nikkei business daily reported that China had blocked a plan by Apple supplier Foxconn to resume production at its factories on Feb. 10 because they had “high risk of coronavirus infection,” which made them unsuitable to restart production.
As of Feb. 8, there were 34,886 cases of coronavirus worldwide, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Situation Report. Of those cases, 34,598 were in China, and 288 were in 24 countries outside of China. There have been 723 deaths from coronavirus in China and one death outside of the country.