Apple’s US retail stores have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the company is going to start opening some of them back up next week. “We’re excited to begin reopening stores in the US next week, starting with some stores in Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska,” an Apple representative told CNBC. “Our new social distance protocol allows for a limited number of visitors in the store at one time so there may be a delay for walk-in customers. We recommend, where possible, customers buy online for contactless delivery or in-store pickup.”
There are just six Apple stores between all of those states, as CNBC notes, so this is a small-scale return that will allow the company to monitor things closely and apply what it learns as more locations welcome customers back in. Apple operates 271 stores in the United States and over 500 globally. More than 70 stores in Asia, Europe, and Australia are now open after being closed to help combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. Apple was quickest to restore operations at its China locations after signs that the virus was under control there. It will likely be some time before Apple’s stores in major cities will return. CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg that “just a few” US openings are planned for the first half of May.
As has been the case with Apple store reopenings in other countries, US retail employees will have access to temperature checks and will have to wear face masks. Face coverings will also be provided to customers. The company says that in these early days, stores will focus on product repairs. A fair number of people likely had their devices stranded at the Genius Bar after the abrupt nationwide closure, even with Apple giving select customers a chance to retrieve finished repairs before stores locked their doors.
Here’s Apple’s full statement as it works to begin getting its US retail presence back up and running:
We’re excited to begin reopening stores in the US next week, starting with some stores in Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska. Our team is constantly monitoring local heath data and government guidance, and as soon as we can safely open our stores, we will.
We’ve missed our customers and look forward to offering our support. With many working and learning from home, our primary focus will be providing service and support at the Genius Bar. We’ll open initially with additional safety procedures including temperature checks, social distancing, and face coverings to ensure customers and employees continue to stay healthy. Our new social distance protocol allows for a limited number of visitors in the store at one time so there may be a delay for walk-in customers. We recommend, where possible, customers buy online for contactless delivery or in-store pick up.
As local guidance varies around the US there may be slight modifications to our procedures. As always, our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19 and those working around the clock to treat, study and contain its spread.