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Apple closes Italian stores and halts education sessions at American stores

The tech giant responds to the spreading coronavirus, which the World Health Organization labeled a pandemic earlier this week.

- 01:33
sydney apple store

You probably won't see crowds like this for a while.

Ian Knighton/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Apple's retail stores are responding to the growing threat of the novel coronavirus. The company has closed its stores throughout Italy after the country went on lockdown, halted its Today at Apple in-store education sessions elsewhere, and reduced other potential chances for staff and customers to transmit the virus.

The company hasn't made official announcements but has instead chosen to leave notes on its website. The pages for each of the Italian stores it operates now show that the stores are closed, with an indication of potentially reduced hours in the future. The company's Today at Apple sessions, meanwhile, have been "paused" as a "precautionary measure," the company wrote on its retail store pages throughout the Americas.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The moves show how the world's most highly valued tech company is navigating the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19. Early research indicates the virus is more dangerous than the typical flu. As it has spread around the world, governments have closed schools, companies have told staff to work from home, and entertainment and sports organizations have delayed releases and shut down operations. Even Disneyland shut down.

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Last month, Apple closed all its stores in China in response to the virus's outbreak there, but the company reopened them this week, according to its website. Apple also reportedly asked store employees not to encourage customers to try on an Apple Watch or AirPod headphones.

The pandemic is having an impact on the company's bottom line. In February, Apple warned investors that iPhone supplies would likely thin as a result of work stoppages in China. As a result, Apple said its revenue would likely dip as well.