Apple closing all stores outside China until March 27 due to Covid-19

Employees wearing protective masks assisting customers at an Apple Inc store in Shanghai. Apple stores are opening in China but ithas decided to close its stores outside China until March 27 due to the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. - Bloomberg

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple is closing all of its stores outside China until March 27 in a bid to slow the spread of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, CEO Tim Cook said. Cook said the firm had learned from steps taken in China, where the tech giant has just reopened its retail stores.

"One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus's transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance," he said in a statement Friday.

"As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we're taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers."

However, a number of cultural venues in Shanghai, including a museum and several art galleries, have reopened to the public as the coronavirus epidemic has eased.

On Friday, the Shanghai Museum reopened seven of its exhibition halls to the public, including those featuring bronze, ceramics, calligraphy and paintings. It limited the number of visitors to 2,000 and received about 1,000 visitors on reopening day.

Visitors must make reservations online, wear masks and have their body temperature checked before entering the museum.

"It's so nice to have these art activities back, after many days of staying at home. The city is getting back its usual colours and vitality," said a visitor named Sylvia Chen.

On the same day, five art galleries in Shanghai also reopened, including the Chinese Art Palace and the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art.

Cultural facilities in Shanghai are reopening to the public in an orderly manner. Earlier this month, many of the city's bookstores resumed operation. However, theaters and cinemas where crowds congregate remain closed.

To ensure the health of the public, Shanghai authorities have required theatres to keep their attendance rate under 50% after their reopening. - Xinhua/Asian News Network/AFP
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