Apple is closing more stores in response to COVID-19's resurgence. Bloomberg reports the iPhone maker has temporarily shuttered three stores in the US and Canada following increases in exposures and outbreaks among employees. Shops in Annapolis (Annapolis Mall), Miami (Brickell City Centre) and the Canadian capital Ottawa (Rideau Centre) will remain closed until either December 18th or December 19th.
It's not clear how many employees developed COVID-19 at the affected stores. In a statement to Bloomberg, Apple reiterated a prior statement indicating that it "regularly monitor[s]" pandemic conditions and has a "comprehensive" store safety initiative that includes daily health checks, masks, extra cleaning and paid sick leave. All workers will have to take COVID-19 tests before they return.
There's no certainty closures like this will continue in the near future. With rising infection rates and uncertainty around the new coronavirus' Omicron variant, however, it won't be surprising if there are more until this latest wave dies down.
The move also underscores the persistent risks for retail staff at many stores, not just Apple's. While many retail employees have to wear masks and share their health statuses, they can't necessarily avoid sick customers —and there are concerns Apple store managers may have pressured subordinates to come in despite showing COVID-19 symptoms. Stores can minimize risks, but they can't completely avoid them so long as the disease persists.