Apple reopens all 42 China stores after coronavirus closures

Apple staff wear face masks as a preventive measure at an Apple shop in Beijing on March 11, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Apple Inc has reopened all 42 of its stores in China after it was forced to close them last month due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The closures were one of two primary reasons Apple cited for pulling down its revenue forecast for the March quarter. China is Apple's third-biggest market.

Since shutting the stores, Apple gradually reopened them, and 38 of the 42 stores were operating as of last week. The final four will open their doors on Friday (March 13) local time, according to Apple's website. An Apple spokesman confirmed the move.

China placed curbs on travel and asked residents to avoid public places in late January, just ahead of the Chinese New Year festival, a major gift-giving holiday. Those restrictions stayed largely in place through most of February.

The company sold fewer than half a million iPhones in China in February, government data showed on Monday, as the outbreak halved demand for smartphones. Apple had announced the shuttering of its branded stores in early February.

Apple was also forced to close all 17 of its stores in Italy earlier this week as the virus spread there.

Meanwhile, Apple has also started creating more space in its retail stores and cancelling some classes to limit Covid-19 transmission. It also encouraged employees at several of its offices to work remotely this week.

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