ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Apple is closing all of its stores worldwide, except for those in Greater China, in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the best way to minimize the risk of the virus spreading is to practice social distancing. The closures will last through March 27 so the stores can be deep cleaned and disinfected.
The company's online store and app will stay open, and people needing help and support with their products can visit its support site.
Apple stores in Greater China have already reopened. The Associated Press reports there's been a slowdown in coronavirus cases in China, which gives a sliver of hope that the outbreak can be controlled.
Apple is following the example of other companies who are changing paid sick leave policies to allow employees who may be sick or caring for someone with COVID-19 to stay home in an effort to not spread the virus. Employees whose job allows are working remotely.
Its store workers will be regularly paid.
"All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations," Cook said. "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."
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