Apple has informed employees that its retail stores in the US will remain closed until at least ‘early May’.
In a memo sent to staff, obtained by Bloomberg, Apple's retail chief Deirdre O'Brien said the company is "continuing to monitor local conditions for every Apple facility on a daily basis" and that the company will make “reopening decisions on the basis of thorough, thoughtful reviews and the latest guidance from local governments and public health experts.”
O’Brien advised staff that the company anticipates that “flexible work arrangements will remain in place for all offices, and all retail stores will remain closed, until early May.”
She added that the company is “working on options to make sure parents have the support and the flexibility to adjust their schedules as needed,” noting that Apple is aware “many parents are balancing homeschooling with working” and is encouraging employees to be open with management about their challenges.
Apple shuttered all of its retail outlets outside of Greater China on March 14 in a bid to help prevent the further spread of the coronavirus around the world. Though at the time it said it planned to re-open stores on March 27, it later that month updated its guidance to show that retail locations would remain closed “until further notice”.
As per Bloomberg’s report, O’Brien last week told staff that some stores outside of the US could open as early as the first half of April.
Closing retail locations and letting all staff work remotely aren’t the only steps Apple is taking to get a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, for example, the company announced that WWDC 2020 would be a digital-only event, with in-person presentations to be replaced with online livestreams
It’s also being speculated that the launch of the iPhone 12, the company’s first 5G smartphone, could be pushed back due to complications caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
According to reports, Apple can’t send its American executives over to China to approve the handset’s final design, which means that the company could already be two months behind its usual schedule.
The company is also said to be concerned that the current situation will lower consumers' appetite to upgrade their phones, which could lead to disappointing sales for its first 5G device.
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