CORRECTION: We originally referred to Apple’s branded retail locations in China as iStores. This is not correct, and has been updated in the story below. We apologise for the naming error.
In February Apple decided to close all of its Store locations in China amid the growing fears and uncertainty about the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the time. With the virus now reaching pandemic status, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Apple has made the rather odd choice to reopen all 42 of the aforementioned Stores in the country.
According to reports by both Bloomberg (paywall) and Reuters, the company has been slowly reopening Store locations over the past couple of weeks, with new opening and closing times for the outlets being detailed on the firm’s Chinese website.
Perhaps the move is not all that surprising, considering Apple CEO, Tim Cook, noted that he thought China was getting a better grip on the COVID-19 outbreak two weeks ago.
“It feels to me that China is getting the coronavirus under control. I mean you look at the numbers, they’re coming down day by day by day. And so I’m very optimistic there,” Cook told Fox Business in an interview.
Whether he was simply saying that to allay any investor fears about the potential for the firm to operate in the region is unclear, but outside of China, Apple appears to be taking more stringent measures.
The Stores in Italy for example, totalling an estimated 17, have been shut down, with the country as a whole closing its borders to any travel in or out at the moment.
Locally though things are continuing as per normal, with no word from Stores in the country, or indeed local distributor, Core Group, regarding the outbreak in South Africa, which currently sits at 24 confirmed cases at the time of writing.
As such it looks like Apple is taking a per-country approach when it comes to COVID-19. How South Africa’s Store locations would be effected if the frequency of cases increases in coming weeks, remains to be seen.
Either way we advise getting your Apple hardware online for now.