• Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out a letter over the weekend announcing that the company would close its stores until March 27 as a result of the continued spread of the coronavirus. “All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations,” Cook added in his original announcement, which was sent out in the early morning hours on Saturday.
  • Now, however, it seems the company may be preparing to keep its stores closed for even longer than originally planned. A message at the top of Apple.com now reads that the company’s stores “are closed until further notice.”
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Apple CEO Tim Cook’s original announcement over the weekend was one more dramatic development that signaled how serious the coronavirus outbreak has gotten around the world. All Apple Stores outside of China, Cook declared, would immediately close for two weeks, reopening on March 27.

With news changing almost by the minute now as a result of the deadly virus’ spread, though, Apple seems to have made a subtle change to the wording around its store closures that now suggests the company is prepped for an even longer closure than originally planned: “Our retail stores,” reads a banner at the top of Apple.com, “are closed until further notice.”

“We are committed to providing exceptional service to our customers,” that banner at the top of the company’s homepage continues. “For purchases with fast and free delivery, shop here on apple.com or the Apple Store app. For service and support, go to support.apple.com or call 800-275-2273. We look forward to seeing you soon.”

Apple announced the closures in the first place as part of a multi-pronged effort that also includes moving employees toward remote work arrangements where possible and matching employee donations to support efforts to contain the virus, among other things. That also follows the iPhone maker’s announcement on Friday that its upcoming annual developers’ conference will switch to an online format this year rather than encouraging reporters and bloggers from the spectrum of the tech industry to gather in one place for the company to show off new software updates for its myriad devices.

This is in contrast to China, which has since recovered from its worst point of the outbreak of the coronavirus — and where Apple originally shut all of its office and retail stores. However, as of earlier this month, the iPhone maker had reopened all 42 of its stores in the country, and its suppliers have also resumed normal operations in China, as well. Outside of Apple, meanwhile, the bad news is continuing to mount around the US, with closures of scores of public gathering places that include everything from restaurants and bars to movie theaters and more.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.