Apple reinstates mask requirements across all US stores

Increasing COVID-19 case counts informed the company’s decision.

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Amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the US, Apple will now require all customers to wear a mask when they visit its stores across the country. The company said it would also enforce occupancy limits. The move comes after Apple recently lifted mask requirements at more than 100 of its stores nationwide ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend. “Amid rising cases in many communities, we now require that all customers join our team members in wearing masks while visiting our stores,” Apple said in a statement to Bloomberg.

In a memo obtained by the outlet, Apple said it made the decision “after reviewing the latest trends in COVID-19 case counts across the US.” The recently sequenced omicron variant is causing new concerns about the direction of the pandemic. Per CNBC, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday the new variant is spreading faster than any previous strain of COVID-19.

“Even if omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned. As of Tuesday, the omicron strain represents approximately 3.0 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the US, up from 0.4 percent the week prior.

The unpredictable nature of the pandemic has forced Apple to frequently change its retail policies as the situation has evolved. The timing of this latest surge could affect the company’s bottom line as it looks to close out another busy holiday season.

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