Apple will require masks for customers at all U.S. stores because of rising Covid cases

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Shoppers wear protective masks outside an Apple Inc. store at the Americana at Brand shopping mall in Glendale, California, on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

Bing Guan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Customers at Apple stores in the United States will be required to wear face masks to shop as Covid cases rise around the country.

Previously, Apple only required masks in some U.S. stores in regions that required them. Tuesday’s announcement means that Apple will require them for shoppers even in states that don’t require indoor masking.

The reinstatement of the mask mandate raises questions about how normal the holiday shopping season as coronavirus restrictions are put back into place because of rising concern over the Omnicron variant, which appears to be more transmissible.

“We regularly monitor conditions and we will adjust our health measures in stores to support the wellbeing of customers and employees,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement. “Amid rising cases in many communities, we now require that all customers join our team members in wearing masks while visiting our stores.”

Apple closed all of its stores in 2020 in response to the Covid pandemic, and since all U.S. stores re-opened earlier this year, it has required its store staff to wear masks and sanitize public areas. Apple has adjusted individual store policies in response to regional conditions at points, including by emphasizing online pickups instead of in-store shopping and increasing the amount of space to social distance inside of stores.

But Apple has still had challenges with covid cases among staff. A store in Texas closed last week after several employees tested positive for Covid, NBC News reported.

Cases are also rising across the country. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. is reporting nearly 120,000 new cases per day, up 25% from before Thanksgiving.

California, where Apple is headquartered, imposed an indoor mask mandate on Monday taking effect later this week.

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