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Apple expects to begin reopening retail stores by mid-April, report says

The iPhone maker closed its stores around the globe in response to the coronavirus.

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Apple expects to begin reopening its retail stores in the first half of April, according to a new report from Bloomberg, following international closures in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The iPhone maker will also allow employees to work remotely through at least April 5, according to the report, which cited an internal company memo from Apple's senior vice president of people and retail, Deirdre O'Brien.

"In all our offices outside of Greater China, we are extending flexible work arrangements for all team members -- outside of those whose work requires them to be onsite -- through at least April 5, which will then be reevaluated weekly depending on your location," O'Brien wrote in the memo, which Bloomberg said was dated March 23.

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

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Apple Stores routinely drew crowds before they shuttered amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

Ian Knighton/CNET

The shift comes after Apple began closing its fleet of stores outside China earlier this month, as the coronavirus has spread. Around the same time, Apple and other tech companies began telling employees to work from home, before California officials instituted a statewide lockdown.

Meanwhile, economies around the world are reeling from sudden work stoppages, social distancing measures and lockdowns, which have ground a lot of business to a halt. Spooked Wall Street investors have sold off stocks at rates not seen in decades. And initial reports indicate the unemployment rate across the US has skyrocketed.

President Donald Trump has responded by agitating over the past couple days for businesses to get ready to reopen, arguing that the economic pain isn't worth the benefits of social distancing and widespread business closures to ensure people's health. Many health experts disagree, and say such moves could make the coronavirus outbreak worse.

Apple in February warned investors that it expects to miss its quarterly sales projections and that supplies of devices like its iPhone may be tight. Afterward, the company limited sales to just two each of an iPhone and iPad on its site, but it over the weekend it appeared to lift those restrictions.