Apple US store closures, remote work orders in place until May

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Apple develops new face shield for coronavirus pandemic, ships 1 million weekly.

Last week, Apple notified its workforce that U.S.-based stores will remain closed until early May to halt the spread of COVID-19. The Big Tech firm also told its corporate employees its work from home policies will remain in effect through this month.

Apple’s Anti-Coronavirus Measures to Stay in Place

Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and People Deirdre O’Brien provided her employees with a coronavirus update on April 2. The executive told her team the company would give parents the scheduling flexibility to balance their work and familial responsibilities. The Silicon Valley giant issued its first work from home recommendations in early March.

O’Brien said Apple would make store “reopening decisions on the basis of thorough, thoughtful reviews and the latest guidance from local governments and public health experts.” The firm shuttered its U.S. based stores in mid-March intending to reopen them at month’s end.

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The iPhone maker operates around 270 retail locations within the United States. On March 13, the corporation reopened all 42 of its stores in mainland China after the region’s new coronavirus infection rates dropped off significantly.

Apple to Distribute New Face Shields

CEO Tim Cook also announced his corporation had designed an easy to assemble face shield, and it will begin shipping them to medical professionals at a rate of 1 million per week. In doing so, the executive provided a critical insight into the firm’s supply chain.

Two weeks ago, Cook announced Apple would help the U.S government source millions of face masks for frontline medical professionals. On Sunday, the executive revealed his organization located over 20 million coverings and would use its global supply chain to ensure their donation to “places of greatest need.”

The executive also disclosed Apple harnessed its resources to design, manufacture, and ship a new type of face shield. Cook said the protective visors, which can be assembled in less than two minutes, had been deployed to a Santa Clara Country, California medical center, and were well-received by the facility’s doctors.

As a result, Apple will ship over 1 million face shields throughout the United States starting this week and will continue making weekly 1 million unit deliveries thereafter. Cook also said his company is working to extend its distribution of the much-needed medical gear beyond the U.S.

Apple Supply Chain Insight

Apple’s face shield project offers an important insight into the status of the firm’s production supply chain. Last month, Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives theorized the firm might delay the launch of its highly anticipated 5G-enabled iPhones because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ives argued problems with the company’s production capacity and weak demand would prompt a product postponement.

While the issue of consumer interest in expensive new handsets is an open question, the matter of Apple’s manufacturing and logistics readiness is less ambiguous. The company seemingly developed and mass-produced a new piece of medical equipment within weeks of its conception. Also, the firm accomplished that feat despite active lockdown orders in regions where it maintains production capacity.

If COVID-19 had severely diminished the company’s supply chain, its humanitarian project would not be as expansive. Instead, the firm is using its production line and logistics networks to deploy crucial personal protective gear at scale. As such, Apple should be able to deliver 5G-enabled iPhones into the hands of American buyers whenever its stores reopen.

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