International | Technology

Apple now says its retail stores are closed ‘until further notice’

The Apple Inc. logo is displayed at one of the company's stores in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Apple cut its revenue outlook for the first time in almost two decades citing weaker demand in China, triggering a slump for Asian suppliers and a wave of lower price targets on Wall Street. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

Apple appears to be expecting a longer disruption to shopping at its physical retail stores as a result of the public health crisis posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, in a press release, the iPhone maker said it would be closing retail stores outside China until March 27.

A note on its website now says the shutdown is open-ended. Apple writes that the bricks-and-mortar stores “are closed until further notice” — so at the very least it’s signalling to customers to expect ongoing disruption to its retail business as usual.

Those looking to buy Apple products are told to shop on the website. Service and support are also offered online or via telephone.

We’ve reached out to Apple to ask for confirmation on a policy change.

In its March 13 missive, the company wrote that it is committed to paying all its hourly workers as if the stores remained open, and also said it was expanding its leave policies to “accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19.”

Late yesterday six Bay Area counties issued a “shelter in place” order to restrict the potential spread of the novel coronavirus. Additional measures seem likely in the coming days.

Multiple countries in the European Union have already ordered the closure of non-essential shops — instructing residents to stay at home unless they need to venture out to obtain essential supplies or are required to work and cannot work from home.