Enlarge /. NEW YORK, June 17, 2020 – Employees serve customers outside an Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the United States, June 17, 2020.
Xinhua News Agency Getty Images
Apple says it will close almost a dozen stores in the U.S. again due to the recent surge in coronavirus infections in the south and west.
The move led to a decline in US stocks as investors feared that Apple's caution could raise concerns among companies about whether it is safe to start reopening the US economy.
Apple stock turned negative in the news, dropping 1.4 percent, while the entire S&P 500 index lost earnings tomorrow. However, Apple's stock remains near a record high. Investors valued the group over $ 1.5 trillion – around $ 220 billion more than at the beginning of the year.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called it a "worrying trend" for US retail, although he thought the impact on Apple sales would be limited. "Apple is a key barometer worldwide," he said. "If [CEO Tim] Cook closes after reopening a month ago, this is a headline for the reopening bulls."
The iPhone manufacturer named 11 locations in four states that are to be closed. Six locations in Arizona will be closed, with daily new cases increasing to 2,519, compared to fewer than 300 at the end of May. Two locations in Florida are closed again, where daily cases have increased almost sixfold to 3,207 in the past month.
Other locations are in North Carolina and South Carolina, which have had daily records in the past week.
"Because of the current Covid 19 conditions in some of the communities in which we operate, we are temporarily closing businesses in those areas," said Apple. "We are taking this step with great caution as we are closely monitoring the situation and look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible."
Apple originally closed all of its global retail stores outside of China on March 14, noting that "density must be reduced and social distance maximized."
On May 8, when the coronavirus appeared to be fading, Apple said it was "excited" to reopen its US locations, starting with Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama and Alaska. Customers had to undergo a quick temperature control, then wear masks and observe social distance inside.
A few days ago, Apple announced that it plans to reopen 70 more stores in the U.S. by the end of the week – including some in New York City that will enter a new phase of reopening on Monday – which means more than 200 of the 271 stores to be opened The US branches would be back in operation.
In the meantime, Governor Gavin Newsom tightened restrictions in Apple's home state of California to curb the spread of the virus. He announced on Thursday that masks would now be required in "every public interior," including hospitals, public transportation, and when performing work.
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