Apple has revealed that its retail storefronts could remain shuttered longer than the company originally expected.
Last week, Apple had announced the closure of all of its stores outside China but said they would re-open in two weeks, on March 27.
Something appears to have changed the company’s outlook, however. With the number of global cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus now surpassing 200,000, Apple has posted a message at the top of its Apple.com home page that states, “Our retail stores are closed until further notice.”
In the previous statement posted on Apple’s website, CEO Tim Cook said the company is looking to learn from the lessons of the COVID-19 outbreak in China–where efforts to contain the spread have improved conditions enough to reopen all Apple stores in the country.
“One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimise risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximise social distance. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers,” Cook said in the statement.
Apple said in that statement that it would continue to pay hourly workers during the retail store shutdown, said it has “expanded our leave policies to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19.” Other employees “should work remotely if their job allows,” Cook added.