Apple will shut down all of its retail stores outside of China until March 27, the company announced Saturday. As part of an effort to keep coronavirus from spreading, the company will focus on online sales instead.

“The most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said in a statement. “As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”

Meanwhile, with the decline of COVID-19 in Greater China, all stores in the country have reopened. 

Back in January, Apple announced on an earnings call that it was only shutting down one of its stores and cutting down on operating hours at other locations. But by mid-February, all stores in China had officially been closed. 

Cook reached deep into history to describe the scale of the coronavirus challenge, quoting Abraham Lincoln: “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”

Employees affected by the shutdown of these stores will continue to receive pay “in alignment with the business as usual operations,” the CEO said. Those who work in corporate offices can work remotely. The company is also implementing health screenings and temperature checks.

The announcement comes a day after Apple confirmed it will be hosting its Worldwide Developers Conference online only this year, also due to coronavirus. The annual event would have brought together thousands of people from around the world under one roof in June.

Given that most Apple Stores around the country are fairly crowded — especially on weekends — shutting down all locations for the next few weeks seems like the inevitable choice. 

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