Tim Cook lets Apple employees work remotely amid coronavirus outbreak

A memo sent to Apple's global workforce calls the outbreak an "unprecedented event."

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has given most of his company's global workforce permission to work from home, given growing concerns about the coronavirus, calling the outbreak an "unprecedented event" and a "challenging moment."

"Please feel free to work remotely if your job allows," for the week of March 9-13, Cook told employees in a memo obtained by Bloomberg. He said the policy impacts "areas with the greatest density of infections."

Cook also reportedly said hourly employees at affected offices will "continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations," Bloomberg reported, a policy also adopted by other tech companies such as Google, TwitterFacebook, Microsoft and Amazon.

An Apple representative confirmed the authenticity of the memo.

Cook's comments expand on a memo sent to Apple employees last week restricting travel to South Korea, Italy and China unless it's deemed "business-critical" and approved by a company vice president. Those who have travel plans to those countries are reportedly being advised to postpone or cancel trips and conduct business via phone or video instead. 

COVID-19 was discovered in the Wuhan region of China's Hubei province late last year and produces symptoms similar to those of pneumonia. Chinese scientists linked the disease to a family of viruses that includes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). The disease has killed 3,460 people, and more than 101,000 people have been infected in more than 60 countries.

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