Apple Closes China Stores And Offices Over Coronavirus Outbreak

Apple stores in mainland China have been temporarily shut down for the next week. All of its official stores and corporate offices in mainland China will be affected. In its announcement, the tech giant said, “Out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts, we’re closing all our corporate offices, stores, and contact centers in mainland China through February 9.” According to the statement, Apple’s online store in China will stay open.

The coronavirus outbreak, which has infected nearly 10,000 worldwide, been declared a global public health emergency. The death toll has more than doubled from a week ago, rising to over 250. The city where the virus outbreak originated, Wuhan, is home to several Apple suppliers. Earlier this week, Apple closed three stores in China due to concerns about the spread of the virus. The company said that it looked forward to re-opening stores “as soon as possible.”

It’s not clear if Apple’s Chinese factories, run by Foxconn, will also be shutting down. As of Tuesday, Foxconn said it didn’t anticipate any impact in production. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company was working out mitigation plans to deal with possible production loss from its suppliers in Wuhan.

Apple remains heavily reliant on China both for smartphone sales and for its supply chain and manufacturing. The company shipped 3.2 million iPhones in China through December, up from 2.7 million units shipped in December 2018. Apple topped earnings and sales estimates in its most recent quarter, which ended in December. The company reported that revenue was up 9 percent to $91.8 billion, beating its own guidance. Earnings were up 8 percent, rising to $55.96 billion.

The outbreak is affecting nearly every aspect of the Chinese economy. Many airlines have temporarily suspended all flights to the country. A number of factories in Hubei province, including plants run by AB InBev and General Motors Co., have temporarily suspended production due to the virus. Starbucks Corp. and McDonald’s Corp. have temporarily shut storefronts as a precautionary measure. Other companies are calling for employees in China to work from home and avoid non-essential business travel in the near term.