By Chand Bellur
February 7, 2020 at 8:20 p.m. PDT
- Apple closed all 42 stores in China due to the coronavirus outbreak.
- Shuttered Apple Stores were expected to open on February 10.
- A leaked letter from Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail and People, indicates that some outlets may remain closed.
Apple Extends Store Closures
Fears of a coronavirus pandemic are shuttering stores, factories, schools and other public places. Authorities are trying to contain the virus before it spreads throughout the world.
The virus, which is thought to have originated in bats, first surfaced in China, which is hardest hit by the disease. With a dense population, the Wuhan metropolitan area is ground zero for the infection.
Apple operates 42 brick and mortar Apple Stores in China, along with several offices. For now, virtually all Apple facilities in China are shuttered. Although most Apple Stores are on track to re-open on February 10, select stores may remain closed.
It’s likely that stores in proximity to Wuhan will be shuttered longer than other outlets. Apple is working with Chinese authorities to ensure customer and employee safety.
Foxconn Factories Shut Down Indefinitely
Although Apple may lose some revenue in China, due to shuttered stores, the greater concern is a complete shut down of manufacturing facilities. The largest iPhone manufacturing plant, operated by Foxconn, is only 300 miles away from Wuhan.
The Taiwan-based manufacturing firm hasn’t issued an expected re-opening date for their Shenzhen plant. Employees were told to stay home, with no definite return date.
Ambiguity around re-opening dates is to be expected. Although this coronavirus strain kills fewer people than many flu strains, there’s a concerted effort to prevent a pandemic. Even with a comparatively lower mortality rate than SARS, the new coronavirus still kills about two percent of infected patients. As this is only the beginning of the epidemic, there’s no clear timeframe to end precautionary measures.