Tim Cook, detailing Apple’s COVID-19 response on Apple Newsroom:
We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater
China until March 27. We are committed to providing exceptional
service to our customers. Our online stores are open at
www.apple.com, or you can download the Apple Store app on the App
Store. For service and support, customers can visit
support.apple.com. I want to thank our extraordinary Retail teams
for their dedication to enriching our customers’ lives. We are all
so grateful to you.
I walked by our Walnut Street store here in Philly about an hour ago, and the store was already closed. A handful of customers and employees remained inside, and there was a short queue outside to assist people with getting technical support online or via the phone. (Which immediately made me wonder if Apple’s online and phone support staff are able to work remotely. Update: Apparently many or most of them are able to work remotely.)
After yesterday’s announcement regarding WWDC, a few DF readers emailed to suggest (some rather strongly) that Apple ought to close its stores, pointing out the obvious: that, in addition to the general principle of social distancing, Apple Stores in particular are problematic for a virus that spreads by touch. The whole point of the stores is to come in and play with iPhones and iPads, type on MacBooks, and so forth. Apple certainly could have kept the stores open without demo hardware for customers to touch, but closing seems like the right thing to do.
My other thought: when I read “until March 27”, I immediately thought “you mean at least until March 27”. A few weeks seemingly did the trick in China, but we have no idea if that will hold true everywhere else. Same goes for everything else that has closed, from schools to sports. Everyone is saying “two weeks” or “through the end of March” but at this point I think that’s very optimistic.
In all of our offices, we are moving to flexible work arrangements
worldwide outside of Greater China. That means team members should
work remotely if their job allows, and those whose work requires
them to be on site should follow guidance to maximize
interpersonal space. Extensive, deep cleaning will continue at all
sites. In all our offices, we are rolling out new health
screenings and temperature checks.
All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in
alignment with business as usual operations. We have expanded our
leave policies to accommodate personal or family health
circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an
illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or
childcare challenges due to school closures.
All good, and at this point I’m not sure Apple really had a choice. Schools are closed all over the U.S., including San Francisco (and Philadelphia).
★ Saturday, 14 March 2020