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City Declares Local Coronavirus Emergency, Apple, Universal Music Shutter
By Jorge Casuso
March 14, 2020 -- Apple has closed all its stores outside China, including its Promenade outlet; Universal Music Group evacuated its Santa Monica headquarters, and the City proclaimed a local emergency in response to the coronavirus.
Universal Music cleared out its home office at 2220 Colorado Avenue Friday evening after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus, Variety reported Friday night.
The evacuation notice came near the end of the workday, when most employees had either left the building or were already working from home, according to the report in Variety.
“Previously, we have committed that if there were to be a confirmed case of coronavirus infection in any of our offices, we would immediately close that location," according to an internal memo obtained by the trade publication.
“Accordingly and out of an abundance of caution, we are immediately closing all of our Santa Monica offices, and all Santa Monica staff are required to work from home until further notice,” the memo said.
Meanwhile, all Apple stores outside Mainland China will remain closed until March 21 to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
The employee has been on leave since March 2 to care of a relative, Apple officials said in a statement Friday.
“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,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a blog post late on Friday.
“As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”
Apple took similar measures when it closed its stores in Mainland China in early February. The stores had all reopened by Friday, although their operating hours were limited.
On Friday night, the City of Santa Monica issued a local emergency proclamation that enhanced its ability to access federal and state dollars for COVID-19 response.
The action came after President Trump declared a national emergency earlier in the day, making available $50 billion in emergency funding to help state and local governments take preventive measures.
“This proclamation is a necessary step in the City’s efforts to align with state Emergency Management, to access state and federal resources, and to partner with our neighboring cities for the public health,” said City Manager Rick Cole.
“Santa Monica will continue to take bold and proactive actions to protect the health and safety of our community.
"We urge everyone to follow the directives of our health officials to stay calm, stay home if you’re sick, and continue to practice appropriate social distancing,” the proclamation said.
The City manager has the authority to declare a local emergency, which must be ratified by the City Council within seven days.
On Thursday, the City announced it had canceled all gatherings -- both hosted by the City and other groups.
The City also closed all its library branches Saturday and has suspended all meetings of Boards and Commissions through March 31.
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