Apple said on Thursday that it would reopen its retail store in Seoul, South Korea, this week as part of a broader push to resume physical retail operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Bloomberg. There are no concrete plans yet to reopen stores elsewhere, although Apple has said in the past that it could start reopening stores in the US sometime in May.
Apple initially closed its retail stores in mainland China earlier this year, and then in March, it closed all 458 other locations around the world, with a deadline of March 27th that has since been extended indefinitely as the spread of the virus has worsened. The closures have affected Apple’s ability to conduct in-store returns repairs, offer Genius Bar support, and sell inventory containing both its own products and those of third-party partners.
“South Korea has shown great progress during the spread of COVID-19,” Apple said in a statement given to Bloomberg. South Korea, which has a population of more than 51 million, has just over 10,500 confirmed cases and only 229 deaths. The country’s success at containing the virus is why Apple now feels comfortable reopening its sole store in the South Korean capital. Last month, Apple also reopened all 42 retail stores it operates in mainland China.
According to Bloomberg, Apple will keep the store on reduced hours “to ensure customers and employees continue to stay healthy,” and the focus will be on offering product support instead of making sales, with Apple urging customers to use online ordering and in-store pick up for those interested in buying products.
In a virtual meeting with Apple’s corporate staff on Thursday, CEO Tim Cook said the company doesn’t yet know when employees will be able to return to corporate offices and that when that does become possible, it will likely involve social distancing measures and possibly temperature checks, reports Bloomberg.
Update April 16th, 6:02PM ET: Added details from an Apple company-wide meeting on Thursday with CEO Tim Cook.