The coronavirus outbreak is having a tangible impact on the tech world, and Apple is serving as a textbook example of its effect. The company is closing all its retail stores and corporate offices in mainland China through February 9th out of an 220;abundance of caution” and in consultation from experts. Apple had initially closed three stores, but this shuts down a full 42 locations across the country.
Key suppliers like Foxconn have said they don’t expect problems meeting production goals for companies like Apple. Caution is still the order of the day, however. Apple chief Tim Cook said that expectations for the start of the calendar year were unusually vague due to virus-related uncertainty. Sales at stores had dropped across China in recent days, even outside of the coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan.
Other companies have closed stores and offices, or have made special accommodations. Tesla, for instance, is offering free Supercharger access so that its EV owners and their friends can get around without having to rely on public transport.
It’s not surprising that Apple would make this move even without the declining sales. Its stores have many hands-on stations, making them prime breeding grounds for viruses even with thorough cleaning. It could easily spread the illness if it isn’t careful, and the temporary closures should eliminate any chance of that happening.