“The well-being of our teammates and consumers is our top priority so we have decided to close our stores in multiple countries around the world including in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand to limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” the company said in a statement.
The new strain of coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, first appeared in Wuhan, China, last year before spreading around the world. The number of worldwide infections was over 156,000 on Sunday, according to a tracker run by Johns Hopkins University, with over 5,800 deaths.
The country with the second-highest death toll is Italy, followed by Iran. Experts told The Epoch Times that some countries with major outbreak clusters likely delayed their response to the virus due to strategic links with China.
In the statement, Nike said its U.S. store closures will be in effect from March 16 until March 27, with online and app-based sales remaining unaffected.
“We are taking additional steps in other Nike-managed facilities, including the option to work from home, staggered work schedules, social distancing and additional safety and cleaning steps to help protect and support our teammates,” the company said.
The sports brand also said it would be keeping open its stores in South Korea, Japan, most of China, and in “many other countries.”
According to Statista, Nike had 1,152 retail outlets worldwide in 2019, with CNBC reporting that the company currently has 384 retail stores in the United States, including Converse and its outlet locations.
Raft of Closures
In announcing U.S. store closures, Nike joins other companies that have made similar moves to curb the spread of the virus.
On Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company would be closing all of its stores outside of China until March 27.
“One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance,” Cook wrote in a letter to customers and employees.
Other retailers to announce closures include Urban Outfitters, Patagonia, and Warby Parker, according to Fox.
Walmart announced it would be reducing its store hours, but staying open.
Tens of thousands of people around the world have recovered from COVID-19, which has no proven treatment or vaccine. The mortality rate differs from country to country. The World Health Organization said the worldwide rate is 3.4 percent but many experts believe it’s lower due to asymptomatic cases that aren’t being counted due to non-detection.
The virus manifests similarly to the flu, with symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Experts say ways to avoid contracting the illness include avoiding sick people, cleaning surfaces and objects regularly, and washing hands frequently, especially before eating.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.