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Apple closes three more retail stores as COVID-19 infections rise

The stores will be closed temporarily

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple has closed three of its retail stores following increased COVID-19 exposures and cases among employees, according to Bloomberg.

The stores, which are located in the Brickell City Centre in Miami; Annapolis, Maryland; and downtown Ottawa, Ontario, will be closed temporarily. Right now, Apple’s website says the Miami store is closed until Friday and the Annapolis and Ottawa stores are closed until Saturday. Apple reportedly closed a store in Southlake, Texas last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak, though the company’s website currently indicates that store is open.

The closures are happening as COVID-19 infections are on the rise. Though the omicron variant is beginning to spread, the delta variant “continues to be the main variant circulating in the United States,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Tuesday, Apple once again began requiring customers to wear masks inside its US retail stores.

“We regularly monitor conditions and we will adjust our health measures to support the wellbeing of customers and employees,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. “We remain committed to a comprehensive approach for our teams that combines regular testing with daily health checks, employee and customer masking, deep cleaning and paid sick leave.” Employees at the closed stores will have to be tested prior to reopening, the spokesperson added.

Apple has also reportedly pushed back its plans to return its corporate workers to the office. Its latest plan was to have employees come back on February 1st under a hybrid work model, but that plan has been delayed to a “yet to be determined” date, according to NBC News’ Zoe Schiffer. An email from Tim Cook announced that employees would get $1,000 to spend on their home office, Schiffer reported. According to Bloomberg, retail employees will also receive this bonus.

Update December 15th, 5:14PM ET: Added information about Apple delaying its return to the office.

Update December 15th, 7:11PM ET: Added information about retail employees receiving bonus as well.