The company is also implementing a number of behind-the-scenes changes. Cook encouraged office employees in areas with the “greatest density of infections” (including Apple’s home in the Santa Clara Valley area, Italy and South Korea) to work from home when possible for the week starting March 9th. He also promised that hourly workers would continue to receive their regular pay at those offices where their work might suddenly be less necessary, echoing policies at rivals like Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
It’s not completely surprising that Apple would go this route. Its modern stores are designed to serve as community spaces. That’s great in normal circumstances, but slightly terrifying when an easily transmitted virus is spreading. If it reduces the chance of contact, it reduces the possibility of contributing to the outbreak. At the same time, it’s clear that Apple wants to avoid closing retail stores (beyond the temporary closures in China) when possible.