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Apple to temporarily close 11 stores over coronavirus outbreaks

Apple’s decision shows that larger corporations are sometimes going further than government officials in exercising caution over public health risks.
Image: A security guard takes the temperature of a customer outside the Apple store in Charleston
A security guard takes the temperature of a customer outside the Apple store in Charleston, S.C., on May 13, 2020.Sean Rayford / Getty Images file

Apple is temporarily closing 11 stores in the South and West of the United States in response to worsening outbreaks of the coronavirus.

“Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas,” the company said in a statement Friday.

“We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible,” it added.

The temporary closings are in Arizona, Florida and North and South Carolina, four states where the daily numbers of reported cases of infection continue to rise to at or near record levels. They will close Saturday, the company said.

Apple’s decision represents a setback for efforts to restart the economy without the U.S. having fully suppressed the pandemic.

Apple said on March 13 it was closing all its stores outside China for two weeks, though some stayed closed longer.

Since then, the company has reopened dozens of stores in various states depending on the conditions locally. Stores in New York City have been due to reopen just this week.

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Arizona and Florida are among the states that this week set records for new COVID-19 cases, as governors there showed no signs of considering another shutdown. Less than a quarter of hospital beds for intensive care patients are available in Florida, according to data released Thursday.

But Apple’s decision also shows that, whether governors act or not, larger corporations are sometimes going further than government officials in exercising caution over public health risks.

The decision comes at a time when Apple is under a spotlight. On Monday the California-based tech company is scheduled to host its Worldwide Developers Conference, the annual meeting for software developers where it typically launches new products and lays out its research priorities. The company is also part of a broad review by U.S. antitrust enforcers into the power of big tech firms.

Apple said that consumers in the four states could go to its online store to shop or find help with an Apple product.

The stores that will close are:

Arizona

  • Chandler Fashion Center
  • Scottsdale Fashion Square
  • Arrowhead
  • SanTan Village
  • Scottsdale Quarter
  • La Encantada

Florida

  • Waterside Shops
  • Coconut Point

North Carolina

  • Southpark
  • Northlake Mall

South Carolina

  • Haywood Mall