Apple is reportedly planning to begin ending mask requirements for customers at some of its US retail stores as early as Friday (via Bloomberg). The company told employees about the change in an internal memo on Thursday, Bloomberg reported, saying the decision was based on a decline in coronavirus cases and a rise in vaccination rates.
Like many companies with multiple locations, Apple has changed its masking requirements for customers more than once since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year. In March 2020, the company closed most of its retail stores as the virus spread. It began reopening some US stores in May 2020, with many offering only curbside service and not allowing customers inside. Most stores that did open to customers conducted temperature checks and required customers and employees to wear masks. Apple began reopening all its US retail stores in March 2021 as vaccines became more widely available and eased mask requirements for customers in June as vaccination rates began to rise, only to reinstate them in July as COVID-19 cases surged once again.
The latest memo states that the updated mask policy will apply to retail customers at more than 100 of Apple’s 270 US stores and will be the same for vaccinated and unvaccinated customers. Mask requirements for Apple retail employees will remain in place, however, and will continue for customers in areas where local governments still require indoor masking. The company added that it will “continue to monitor local guidance and Covid data” throughout the coming holiday season and adjust as conditions warrant, according to Bloomberg.
Apple didn’t reply to a request for comment from The Verge on Thursday.