Apple warns iPhone shipments will be delayed due to Covid restrictions at Foxconn plant

Apple has said it expects fewer iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone Pro Max shipments than previously anticipated as Covid-19 restrictions temporarily disrupt production at an assembly facility in Zhengzhou, China.

“The facility is currently operating at significantly reduced capacity,” Apple said in a statement. “Customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”

Reuters reported in October that production of Apple’s iPhones could slump by as much as 30% at one of the world’s biggest factories next month due to tightening Covid curbs in China.

Its main Zhengzhou plant in central China, which employs about 200,000 people, has been rocked by discontent over stringent measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, with many workers fleeing the site.

Separately, Taiwan-owned Foxconn, Apple’s biggest iPhone maker, said on Monday it was working to resume full production at a major plant in Zhengzhou, China, that had been hit by Covid-19 curbs, and revised down its fourth quarter outlook.

The impact on production comes amid a traditionally busy time for electronics makers ahead of the year-end holiday season, which is also a prime time for vendors of consumer goods like Apple.

Foxconn’s plant in Zhengzhou, which employs about 200,000 people, produces the majority of Apple’s new phones, including the new iPhone 14.

The Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone in central China said that from midday on Wednesday, it was placing the 415 sq km industrial park that hosts the plant under China’s lowest “static management” tier of lockdown until midday on 9 November.

Foxconn said it would implement new Covid-19 measures at the Zhengzhou plant including moving all working employees into three dormitories.

An official statement said residents in the area, about 16 miles south-east of Zhengzhou, were barred from leaving home and must be PCR tested once a day. Public transport services were suspended and only approved vehicles are allowed on the roads. Other measures included the closure of offices, non-essential shops and services.

The statement said any violations of the rules would be “severely dealt with” by the police and urged people to cooperate to “score victory in this district’s struggle against the epidemic”.

In late October, workers were filmed fleeing the site after complaining about their treatment and provisions via social media. Nearby cities have drawn up plans to isolate migrant workers fleeing to their home towns, to prevent the spread of the virus.

Zhengzhou, a city of nearly 13 million, is struggling to contain its worst outbreak in months while keeping its economy on an even keel.

China reported on Monday 5,496 new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases for 6 November – the highest since 2 May when the country’s commercial capital of Shanghai was put under a crushing lockdown amid its worst outbreak.

China is the last major economy wedded to a strategy of extinguishing Covid outbreaks as they emerge, imposing snap lockdowns, mass testing, and lengthy quarantines despite the widespread disruption to businesses and international supply chains.

Authorities have poured cold water on speculation that the policy could be relaxed, with National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng saying that Beijing would “stick unswervingly to … the overall policy of dynamic zero-Covid”.

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Apple warns iPhone shipments will be delayed due to Covid restrictions at Foxconn plant