From Nordstrom to Microsoft, stores close across U.S. amid COVID-19 outbreak

A woman walks past a giant American Flag wearing a face mask in Times Square in New York City on Thursday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

March 17 (UPI) — From high-end retailers to fast-food franchises, stores across the nation announced they would be temporally shutting their doors on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump advised the public to limit non-essential gatherings to fewer than 10 people amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Nordstrom, the luxury department chain, said it would be closing all of its U.S. and Canadian stores on Tuesday for the next two weeks to aid in slowing the spread of COVID-19, a virus that has caused more than 7,000 deaths and infected more than 180,000 people worldwide since the outbreak began in China in December.

The high-end retailer operates some 380 stores, including 117 full-line locations, according to its website.

Sephora, the makeup company, said it would be doing likewise until April 3 “to support the collective fight against COVID-19.”

Both companies said they will continue to provide pay and benefits to their employees during the shutdown.

Meanwhile, the City of Beverly Hills in California said City Council voted Monday night to close all non-essential retail stores, including those on the iconic shopping street of Rodeo Drive, a two-mile strip of luxury boutiques and designer shops, among others.

“This is an opportunity for Beverly Hills to do what we do best, care for one another,” Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch said in a statement.

The stores on the street shall be closed except for pick up, delivery “and certain transactions by appointment,” the city’s Office of Emergency Management said in the statement.

Vans, the California-based sports footwear brand, announced via Twitter on Monday that its Canada and U.S. stores would also be closing.

On the tech front, Microsoft said it would be closing all of its stores worldwide, effective immediately. The announcement was made days after the store said it would be operating at reduced capacity.

The move came after Apple announced Friday it would be closing all of its stores outside mainland China until March 27. It said that its offices were also encouraging workers to work remotely.

“All of our hourly workers will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations,” Apple said in a statement.

T-Mobile also announced that it would be closing 80 percent of its stores from Tuesday until March 31, while the locations across the country that will remain open will operate at reduced hours to “further support social distancing recommendations, limit gatherings of people and ensure the well-being of its customer.”

Meanwhile, McDonald’s said it would be closing its seating areas at its U.S. franchises and focusing on its drive-through and walk-in take-out services.

The closures came as California Gov. Gavin Newsom directed all restaurants in the state to close, and after governors in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced Monday that many non-essential businesses across their states would close.

On Monday, Trump laid out new guidelines that included limiting non-essential gatherings to fewer than 10 people, and for the public to avoid visiting bars, restaurants and public food courts.

The guidelines were issued as the country deals with a deepening outbreak that has grown in the past few weeks to 68 deaths caused by the virus and more than 4,000 confirmed cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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