Companies that were forced to shut down parts of their business due to COVID-19 have seen this summer as a chance to start getting back on track. But there are problems as cases surge. Apple and Disney are among them.
But surging cases in a number of US states are forcing firms like Disney and Apple to scuttle their plans or reverse course, underscoring the difficulty of planning for the future amid a pandemic.
Disney is delaying the phased reopening of Disneyland in California, which had been set to welcome back guests on July 17. And Apple said it would shutter seven stores that had reopened in Houston, Texas, days after it closed 11 stores across Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Arizona.
Two stores in Research Triangle Park area – Raleigh and Durham – remain closed.
The decisions come as Florida, Texas and California — the three most populous US states — have announced record surges in cases this week. If the case trajectory continues in Houston, it could be the hardest-hit city in the United States.
This environment creates a set of tough choices for businesses big and small, which need to open their doors to begin reviving their cash flow while ensuring their operations don’t pose a threat to public health. They’re also subject to actions by government officials, who could reimpose lockdowns with little warning.
“The return to normal is going to take far longer than most realize,” Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners tweeted after the Disneyland announcement.
Remember: Missteps can prove damaging. A fresh coronavirus outbreak in Germany has placed the country’s massive meat processing industry under intense scrutiny after more than 1,500 workers were infected at a family-owned slaughterhouse in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The coming weeks will prove crucial as companies try to chart a path forward. The Wall Street Journal reports that Disney is weighing whether to postpone the July 24 release of “Mulan” as movie theaters struggle to reopen.
Greenfield said on Twitter that it would be “financial insanity” to release the film if theaters in New York aren’t allowed to reopen by that time.
Apple shares fell slightly on Wednesday but beat the broader market, one day after touching an all-time high. Disney shares have fared worse, dropping 3.8% on Wednesday. They’re down more than 22% this year.
In other news:
Wirecard files for insolvency, adding to Germany’s tough week
Wirecard has filed for insolvency, just days after a $2 billion accounting scandal at the company burst into the open, crashing its stock and leading to the arrest of its former chief executive.
The latest: The digital payments company said in a statement Thursday it had opened legal proceedings in Munich “due to impending insolvency and over-indebtedness.”
Shares in the company, which have lost 90% of their value in less than a week, were suspended on the Frankfurt stock exchange, my CNN Business colleague Charles Riley reports.