: Apple says it will close all non-China stores until March 27 to help stem coronavirus spread

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Apple Inc. has announced the temporary closure of all stores outside of China, to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus and said it would increase donations to help support global response efforts.

In a blog on the iPhone maker’s AAPL, +11.98%  website posted Friday, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said those stores would remain shut until March 27 to protect employees and the public. He said the company would continue offering services online.

“In all of our offices, we are moving to flexible work arrangements world-wide outside of Greater China. That means team members should work remotely if their job allows, and those whose work requires them to be on site should follow guidance to maximize interpersonal space. Extensive, deep cleaning will continue at all sites. In all our offices, we are rolling out new health screenings and temperature checks,” he said.

All the company’s stores in Greater China — closed since early February as it was at the epicenter of the outbreak — have now reopened, he said, expressing gratitude to team members for their “determination and spirit” and partners for getting the supply chains back up and running.

He said Apple’s donations to the global Covid-19 response have reached $15 million world-wide. “We are so announcing that we are matching our employee donations two-to-one to support Covid-19 response efforts locally, nationally and internationally.”

On Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, a move that will free up money and other resources for emergency management. In Europe, where the virus is hitting countries such as Italy and Spain hard, governments have been moving to close only essential businesses and limit movement of individuals. Schools parts of the U.S. have also been closing, many businesses are asking employees to work from home and cultural and sporting events have been cancelled.

Shares of Apple have lost 3.8% over the past five trading sessions, against an 8.8% drop for the S&P 500. Stocks rebounded Friday on the heels of the biggest one-day rout for the Dow DJIA, +9.36%  and S&P 500 SPX, +9.29%   since the 1987 crash as investors have panicked over the spread of the coronavirus and fears that global governments are not responding fast enough.

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