Apple Delays Return to Office, Closes Three Retail Stores as Covid Cases Rise

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Covid-19 concerns prompted Apple to shut three stores, and it announced yesterday that all customers and store employees have to wear face masks; an Apple store in lower Manhattan.



Photo:

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Apple Inc.

AAPL 2.85%

has once again delayed its plans to return to the office as concerns mount about the Omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19, and the company also closed three retail locations after a rise in cases at those stores.

On Wednesday, Apple told its office workers that their return is again delayed to a yet-to-be-determined date, according to a person familiar with the announcement. Roughly a month ago, Chief Executive Officer

Tim Cook

told employees they would return in a hybrid approach in February.

The iPhone maker has put off its return-to-office several times, after attempting to bring employees back to physical spaces in June and September this year, as well as in January of 2022. The company had previously sketched out a plan to bring workers back in steps, initially one or two days a week and eventually reaching three days a week after that.

Apple has again postponed workers’ return to Apple Park in Cupertino, Calif.



Photo:

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Apple also temporarily closed stores in Miami’s Brickell City Centre; Annapolis, Md.; and Ottawa, Canada, after the stores experienced a rise in Covid-19 cases.

“We regularly monitor conditions and we will adjust our health measures to support the wellbeing of customers and employees,“ Apple said in a statement. ”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.”

The move comes after Apple announced on Tuesday that all employees and customers in its U.S. stores would be required to wear masks.

Apple’s store closures have come to be closely watched in retail, as the company has responded quickly to outbreaks and health risks during the pandemic.

Apple has consistently been one of the first retailers to close its doors in areas of the U.S. just as they see a surge in Covid-19 cases. WSJ tracked hundreds of store closures, coronavirus statistics and lockdown measures to piece together Apple’s shutdown strategy. Illustration: John McColgan

Bloomberg News earlier reported the news of Apple’s latest precautions.

Write to Tim Higgins at [email protected]

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the December 16, 2021, print edition as ‘Apple Puts Off Return To Office.’

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