News of the coronavirus spreading at an accelerating rate has pushed tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to announce the temporary close of all of its stores in mainland China, one of Cupertino’s biggest markets, through Feb. 9.
The iPhone maker said in a statement provided to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman that it was closing its brick-and-mortar stores, 42 of them, corporate offices and contact centers “out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts.” The company said it looked forward to re-opening stores “as soon as possible”.
It is not clear whether Apple’s iPhone factories will be closed too. Apple is heavily reliant on China both for iPhone sales – Cupertino shipped 3.2 million smartphones in China through December – as well as for the majority of its manufacturing.
Apple’s statement also said that its online store would remain open and that the company’s thoughts are “with the people most immediately affected by the coronavirus and with those working around the clock to study and contain it.”
Apple’s move comes as a handful of international companies with heavy Chinese presence weigh how to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The virus, which remains primarily concentrated in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, has killed over 250 people and infected nearly 10,000 worldwide.