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Apple Extends Employee Travel Restrictions To Italy & Korea

Apple has extended its employee travel restrictions to Italy and South Korea following the spread of COVID-19 in both countries.

The move from the tech giant comes weeks after it made initial travel restrictions to China, where it’s believed the coronavirus emerged from the Wuhan district.

‘We have instituted specific travel restrictions in a few countries including China, South Korea, and Italy,’ the company told employees in a memo that outlines its latest response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

A closure notice is seen on the glass wall of the closed Apple Store on the Nanjing Road pedestrian street during the outbreak of the new coronavirus and pneumonia in Shanghai, China on February 10th, 2020. (Photo by Wang Gang / Costfoto/Sipa USA)

The company has told employees they are only allowed to travel to those regions for critical business purposes and must get approval from a company vice president, according to messages viewed by Bloomberg News.

The memo sent Monday evening also outlined Apple’s procedures for handling the virus outbreak, including the encouragement for meetings to be held online.

‘There are many ways to continue to manage our ongoing meetings and activities through calls and video,’ Apple said in the email to workers, according to the publication.

‘If you do have travel planned, we suggest you work with your managers to consider delaying or cancelling business travel which could be postponed or managed through virtual meetings.’

Apple also noted that deep cleaning protocols were its top priority and were in effect across its stores, offices and employee shuttles. The company has also since placed hand sanitiser stations at the front of its stores as well, in a move to increase hygiene.

A man wearing a mask walks past an Apple Store in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Russia says it will temporarily ban Chinese nationals from entering the country amid the outbreak of the new virus centered in China that has infected more than 73,000 people. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

The memo also states any employees who are sick, particularly with a fever or cough, should take sick leave until fully recovered. It’s also encouraged for employees to wash their hands, cover their coughs and not touch their faces.

Apple was previously forced to close all 42 of its stores and offices across China as well as cut employee travel to the country amid the virus outbreak. The company’s offices and over half its stores in the country have now re-opened, but consumer traffic is still lagging.

The move to restrict travel to Italy and South Korea coms after the number of infections in both countries rapidly increased. Apple has 17 stores in Italy and one in South Korea, but none have closed according to Apple’s retail website.

American multinational technology company brand apple and logo seen in Hong Kong. (Photo by May James / SOPA images/Sipa USA)

On Friday, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said the company has suppliers and business operations in both countries.

‘It’s very important to see what happens there,’ he said.

Apple has been uniquely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak due its resulting from the majority of its supply chain being located in China. One of its biggest manufacturing partners, Taiwan’s Foxconn, said this week its factories are operating at about half of their usual capacity.

Apple has declined to comment.

A man wearing a face mask walks past the Apple logo at an Apple store in Shanghai, China, 21 February 2020 (EPA/LIU XINGZHE)

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