Coronavirus forces Foxconn to keep closed all iPhone assembly plants in China

By

Coronavirus-related shutdowns continue to disrupt Chinese factories.
Coronavirus-related shutdowns continue to disrupt Chinese factories.
Photo: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr CC

Foxconn reportedly won‘t be able to resume iPhone assembly on Monday. Its plants in China where Apple handsets are put together have been closed since before the Lunar New Year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and the government has allegedly forbidden them to reopen next week, literally on pain of death.

Foxconn plants stay shuttered

Foxconn‘s Zhengzhou plant makes so many iOS devices it’s sometimes called “iPhone city.” And it won‘t reopen its doors on Monday, according to the Japanese business publication Nikkei. The company had hoped to restart production this week.

Government health inspectors toured the company’s facility in Shenzhen, and ordered it to stay shut down as well. And were extremely serious about it — a Foxconn memo leaked to Nikkei said “Violation of epidemic prevention and control could potentially face the death penalty.”

When these plants will be allowed to resume iPhone assembly is unknown. Foxconn reportedly doesn’t plan to open any facilities until they have approval from their local government health agencies.

And it’s not just iPhone. Compal Electronics delayed restarting iPad production in China until Monday Feb. 17. Whether Quanta will resume MacBook production on Monday is not yet known.

The Chinese government is ordering the continued closure of these plants in hopes of containing the coronavirus. This has so far sickened over 34,000 people worldwide, and killed at least 805, according to CBS News.

Effects on iPhone and iPad availability unknown

What the temporary of Foxconn’s assembly plants means for iPhone supplies is unknown. It does have assembly plants in Vietnam, India and Mexico. Still, a prominent analyst already predicted that iPhone shipments will drop 10% this quarter because of the coronavirus.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week that his company is working on finding “alternate sources” for components, but did not specifically address alternatives for product manufacturing.

It’s not just Apple being affected. Foxconn’s client list also includes Amazon, Dell, Google, HP, Microsoft, Nintendo and many more.