iPhone shipments delayed by COVID-19 lockdown, Apple says

Holiday shopping season has begun, but Apple is warning shoppers that its newest iPhones may not be readily available.

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Apple said in a news release that COVID-19 restrictions in China have forced the primary factory that assembles the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max to operate at “significantly reduced capacity.” Apple warned that customers “will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”

The assembly plant, run by Foxconn, is in Zhengzhou, in a district that was locked down on Nov. 2 for seven days, the BBC reported.

The factory employs approximately 200,000 people, with many employees fleeing the site over the stringent measures that have been put in place to curb COVID-19, Reuters reported.

Among the restrictions in place are that residents are not allowed to leave home and must be PCR-tested once daily, The Guardian reported. Public transportation has been suspended and all non-essential businesses were ordered to close.

A worker named He spoke to The Financial Times on Monday, saying the staff shortages at the plant have been getting worse daily. He said his warehouse is typically staffed by 200 people, and by Monday there were only 65 left. He told the newspaper he is sleeping at the warehouse because he doesn’t want to get sick by sleeping in crowded dormitory rooms.

China reported 5,643 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday, the highest daily number in the last six months, the BBC reported. Zhengzhou recorded 3,683 cases and 22 deaths on Monday.

The iPhone is responsible for approximately half of Apple’s global sales, with the December quarter being the most lucrative, The Financial Times reported.

Apple said in its news release: “We are working closely with our supplier to return to normal production levels while ensuring the health and safety of every worker.