Apple Reinstates Masks, Occupancy Limits at U.S. Stores as COVID-19 Cases Rise

With COVID-19 resurfacing with the Omicron variant and infection rates spiking, Apple has decided to re-enforce its mask mandate and observe occupancy limits at all retail locations across the U.S. — reports Bloomberg.

“Amid rising cases in many communities, we now require that all customers join our team members in wearing masks while visiting our stores,” the iPhone maker said in a statement Tuesday.

Shoppers will now have to wear masks at Apple Stores once again, a requirement the tech giant had dropped at about half of its U.S. locations earlier this year to “support the well-being of customers and employees” amid falling COVID-19 case counts.

Apple had also eased up on occupancy limits at its stores as the company started reopening them and working towards getting retail operations back to normal, but control over foot traffic and store occupancy will be tightened once again.

“This is a busy time of year in our stores,” Apple said in an internal memo. “Proactively monitoring and managing store occupancy will enable you to engage with customers and teammates at a distance that feels more comfortable.”

The memo noted that the decision “comes after reviewing the latest trends in Covid-19 case counts across the U.S., as well as local guidance.” As we’ve seen in the past, Apple closely monitors COVID-19 activity in every region, and will even close down stores in the event of a notable spike.

Apple in its memo went on to say that masks will be mandatory for both customers and employees regardless of vaccination status, adding that workers are encouraged to get a booster shot.

COVID-19 couldn’t have made a comeback at a worse time for Apple — the company is currently in the throes of its holiday shopping rush, with analysts projecting record sales and a revenue of around $118 billion USD this quarter.

Apple Stores in Canada say “face masks may be required based on local conditions” and also there is “limiting store occupancy”, along with “physical distancing” in effect.