Apple has decided to keep its retail stores outside mainland China closed indefinitely as the global spread of the coronavirus continues. The iPhone maker was originally targeting March 27th to reopen locations in the US and elsewhere around the world, but Bloomberg now reports the company plans to keep all stores closed “until further notice.” The company’s website has also been updated to reflect the new indefinite closure.
Apple only just closed its US locations temporarily last weekend, and last week it closed retail stores indefinitely in Italy, where there are currently the most COVID-19 cases outside China. In mainland China, Apple has already reopened all 42 stores it operates thanks to the Chinese government’s containment of the virus.
Apple did not give a reason for the indefinite closure update. But numerous American cities, including New York City and San Francisco, have in the past two days announced and implemented policies that advise people to stay indoors and forced the closure of bars, restaurants, and all other nonessential businesses as the coronavirus continues to spread.
For Apple, this decision is sure to complicate its in-store return and repair programs. The company already announced an extension to its return window for any customers who may have bought products just prior to the retail closures; that should hold for up to 14 days after the stores do eventually reopen. But it’s unclear how in-store pickup and existing repair orders will be processed in the event of a long-term closure. Apple currently has a FAQ page up for addressing these issues, but it has yet to be updated with the indefinite closure guidance.