As the coronavirus disease keeps spreading and claiming more victims in China, some foreign companies are taking proactive measures to keep their employees and businesses safe. One of those companies to take the first initiative is Apple Inc, which is closing all its offices in mainland China until further notice.
Apple is closing ALL stores, corporate offices, and contact centers in China due to Coronavirus through Feb. 9, company says in statement. https://t.co/E5xGkgAkeS pic.twitter.com/bbpGN885n4
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) February 1, 2020
On Saturday, the tech giant said it’s going to shut down all its corporate offices and office stores in mainland China, as the death toll from the coronavirus doubles in the country within a space of one week.
However, there is no indication of whether Apple intends to close its Foxconn operated an office in China. If the company eventually shuts down the office, it could mean that more workers could be laid off as well. On Tuesday, Foxconn revealed that the company would still be producing and may not close down like other offices in China.
Companies that are still operational have dropped down their production capacity below the normal level, in anticipation of a drop in demand.
Apple’s online stores still open for business
Apple is only shutting down its physical store in China, as its online stores will still be operating fully.
In a statement released by Apple, the company said that based on advice from top health experts and for the sake of caution, it will close its contract centers, stores, and corporate offices in mainland china from February 9. However, it’s the online store will still remain operational. Apple did not provide any definite date it would reopen the offices but pointed out that it would reopen as soon as possible.
Apple has also ready closed three stores in the country this week because of fear of the spread of coronavirus.
Apple follows other corporations
Apple is not the first multinational that has taken the steps to close down offices in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Other companies that have temporarily shut down due to precautionary measures include McDonald’s Corp as well as Starbucks Corp.
While some companies have shut down completely, some others are still operating but advising their employees to work from home instead. They have called on their employees working in China to stop making non-business related trips.
Coronavirus virus halts business activities after the lunar holiday
Every beginning of the year, after the lunar holiday in China, business activities usually return on a full scale in the world’s most populous country. However, the outbreak of the coronavirus has prevented businesses from returning to full swings.
There are growing health concerns, as the virus appears to be spreading rapidly rather than dwindling. Despite the Chinese government’s effort to mitigate and tackle the virus, it seems the vectors of the virus are a bit tougher to handle. The Chinese Super League, which was billed to resume on the 22nd of February has also been postponed due to fears of the virus.
Apple’s manufacturing and supply chain business may suffer
Apple is one of the main companies that rely heavily on China for manufacturing and smartphone sales. But many manufacturing plants in Hubei province, including those operated by General Motors Inc and AB InBev, have suspended production because of the virus. Coincidentally, the outbreak began from Wuhan, the production base of several Apple suppliers.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, mentioned that the company is working on how to address the loss of production from its Wuhan suppliers.
The coronavirus has already killed more than 200 people in China, and more than 10,000 people have been infected worldwide. Many countries have placed travel restrictions on citizens from high-risk countries in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading into their country.
Many airlines have already suspended their flights to China, as the virus is now seen as a global public health emergency. The U.S. is taking proactive measures to prevent the influx of the disease by establishing its first CDC quarantine in 50 years. With all these developments and proactive measures, many feel that Apple is in line to close its offices temporarily.