Nearly two months after Apple closed its retail stores in the United States due to the global Coronavirus pandemic, the firm this week began the gradual re-opening of selected outlets in the US.
Apple announced that some of its retail stores in four states, namely Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama and Alaska, will reopen this week.
Apple has 271 stores in total in the United States, with a total 510 stores around the world.
The opening of stores is later than Apple had initially planned.
In March this year, an internal memo revealed that Apple had slated the first half of April to begin reopening some of its stores in a post Coronavirus world.
But the Coronavirus pandemic has been more deadly and more widespread than thought back then, and two months later it is only opening selected stores in those four US states.
The firm did not state how many stores it would reopen, but it is understood to have a total six stores spread across those four states.
The first store to reopen will be in Boise, Idaho, on Monday.
“We’ve missed our customers and look forward to offering our support,” a company spokesperson said in a statement provided to CNN Business.
It reported that Apple will primarily focus on its Genius Bar, which provides in-person service and tech support, as more people use its products to stay connected while working from home, the spokesperson added.
But Apple is imposing additional safety protocols at its stores, including mandatory temperature checks and facial masks for both staff and customers.
Apple said it would provide face masks to customers who don’t already have them.
The iPad maker is also implementing social distancing protocols in stores, allowing only a limited number of walk-in customers at a time.
“We recommend, where possible, customers buy online for contactless delivery or in-store pick up,” the spokesperson told CNN.
Apple took the decision to close all of its 42 stores in China in early February, when the full horror of the Coronavirus pandemic was still limited to the Chinese mainland.
The iPad maker reopened its Chinese stores in March, as Covid-19 infections fell in China but spread across the world.
Also in March Apple decided to close all its stores outside China.
It is understood that Apple has since reopened one store in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, as well as all stores in Australia and Austria.
All Apple stores in Germany will also reopen on Monday.
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