Apple to limit public trying on Apple Watch & AirPods at stores to stop coronavirus spread

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Want to try on an Apple Watch or AirPods at an Apple Store? It might now be at your own risk.
Photo: Elago

Apple has told its retail store employees worldwide not to recommend customers physically try on an Apple Watch or in-ear AirPods, in an effort to cut down on the spread of coronavirus.

Customers can still ask to try on ‌the products, but employees have been told not to offer the opportunity, according to a published report Wednesday.

Preventive measures at Apple Stores

The decision is one of many Apple is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 before it has to resort to possibly closing some or all stores completely, all of this coming after the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

Apple Stores worldwide will be limiting the number of customers who can enter its retail stores at any one time. It is also reducing customer seating by half, and introducing ‘social distancing’ protocols in which employees are asked to stay three feet away from customers and each other, according to Business Insider.

Additionally, ‘Today at Apple’ sessions have been canceled indefinitely in Seattle, San Jose and San Francisco. Reduced store hours or even store closures could be on the horizon in areas of the U.S. impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Apple has also closed all of its 17 retail stores in Italy on Wednesday, which has the highest number of coronavirus deaths outside of Asia. The move to close stores comes after Apple closed all of its 42 stores in China temporarily. As of Wednesday, all but four of the stores in mainland China have re-opened, some of them on reduced hours of operation.

Apple also placed a travel ban on China, Italy and South Korea, requiring employees to get permission from a vice president for business-critical trips.

Apple is also starting to take preventative measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 at its stores in the US.

Other cautionary measures Apple has taken in recent weeks include boosting cleaning staff and installing hand sanitizer stations in stores. Hourly employees, including retail staff, are also allowed to take sick leave without having it count toward their usual allotment.

Wednesday night, President Trump announced the U.S. government was suspending travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days to slow the spread of the virus. It was later reported by the Department of Homeland Security that the ban “does not apply to American citizens, legal permanent residents, or their families.”

Worldwide, there are over 125,000 confirmed cases with more than 4,620 deaths. In the U.S., there are over 1,200 confirmed cases and 37 deaths.