Apple store closures extended to ‘until further notice’

March 17, 2020, 6:24 PM UTC

Apple has opened the door to extending a previously announced closure of most of its stores due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In an important change to its website on Tuesday, Apple said that its stores outside of mainland China “are closed until further notice” rather than until March 27, as the company had said on Saturday.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the change.

On Saturday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the store closures were intended to increase social distancing to keep both employees and customers safe.

The iPhone maker’s change in messaging may have been a response to the White House on Monday recommending a 15-day social-distancing period aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. Other countries, such as France and Italy, have taken drastic steps to blunt the virus’ impact.

Apple is shifting to the possibility that many countries won’t have COVID-19 under control by March 27, and that it will therefore have to keep stores closed longer.

Whatever the case, it’s unlikely that closing stores for a longer period will hurt Apple’s overall business more than is already case, analysts told Fortune on Monday. They predicted that many shoppers would shift their buying online, allowing Apple to still turn a profit rather than having to dip into its massive $200 billion cash hoard.

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