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Apple CEO Tim Cook Explains Company's Response to COVID-19, New Closures

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Apple CEO Tim Cook outlined the company's response to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in a letter to "the worldwide Apple family" on Friday.

Cook said that Apple has re-opened its retail locations in Greater China because "the rate of infections has dramatically declined" in that region. The company's stores in all other markets have been closed, however, until at least March 27. Apple will continue to offer support (and sell products) via its online platforms in the interim.

Apple's changed its work policies in response to COVID-19 as well. Cook explained:

"In all of our offices, we are moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide 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.

"All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations. We have expanded our leave policies to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges due to school closures."

The company's also shifted the annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) to "a completely new online experience" that will take place this summer. Apple wasn't alone in that regard. Many other events have been taken online--or canceled outright--in an effort to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spreading at those venues.

Besides those efforts, Cook said that Apple will match employee donations to COVID-19 response efforts "locally, nationally and internationally" on a two-to-one ratio. The company's already donated $15 million to those efforts, he said, and we suspect that doubling employee donations will cause that number to rise fairly quickly.