Apple Stores in US will start dropping mask requirements this week

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Wave goodbye to masks at some Apple Stores.
Photo: Ivan Samkov/Pexels CC

If you’ve been dreaming of seeing the bottom half of people’s faces in Apple Stores (odd dream, admittedly!), you’ll get your wish starting this week as many Apple Stores in the U.S. begin loosening their mask requirements.

This comes as major retailers are increasingly getting back to normal as the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Apple has been one of the more cautious parties when it comes to in-store mask policies. The likes of Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Costco have already ditched mandatory mask rules. But Apple was said to be holding back.

A report from May said it was doing so to “evaluate health and safety” measures. This was after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated individuals don’t need to wear a face mask in the majority of public settings. Bloomberg reports that:

“The technology giant has begun informing retail employees of the impending change in impacted markets, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified discussing policy changes that haven’t been announced. The change will go into effect as early as Tuesday, and employees have been told that they won’t be required to ask customers for verification of vaccination.

Workers will still need to wear masks at stores, Apple told staff. The company could change its plans or delay the loosening of the restriction. The requirement for face coverings will also be dropped at some of the Cupertino, California-based company’s U.S. offices, according to a memo sent to corporate employees.”

According to an Apple memo, “physical distancing requirements are also being relaxed.”

Apple comes out the other side of the pandemic

Apple was quick to act when the coronavirus pandemic broke out globally. It closed all its Apple Stores outside Greater China in March 2021. At the time it said that the plans were to reopen at the end of that month — although, in the end, reopening didn’t start to happen until May. Since then, it’s been a shaky road to recovery as various Apple Stores have been reopened, closed, and reopened. This has been in accordance with local guidance and rules.

The fact that Apple’s now seemingly gearing up to lower restrictions is a good sign, however. It’s not just Apple Stores where restrictions are being lowered, either. Tim Cook recently said that he expects Apple employees to work from the office by September. This is part of a hybrid approach to working, whereby staff can work two days from home. There has been a backlash against this demanded return to the office from some Apple employees. Apple has long been a company that prizes on-site culture. (There’s a reason it spent billions of dollars getting the majority of the Cupertino workforce in one location.)

Source: Bloomberg