Apple Closes Additional Stores Amid Omicron Surge

Apple has closed several stores in major U.S. cities over the last couple of weeks due to rising cases of COVID-19. According to a report by Bloomberg, seven locations in North America shut down last week, including Apple Stores in Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Texas and Montreal, Canada among others. The company is encouraging customers to do their shopping online.

On Tuesday, the company announced it was temporarily closing some one dozen locations in New York City, including Fifth Avenue, SoHo, Grand Central and World Trade Center. "We regularly monitor conditions and we will adjust both our health measures and store services to support the wellbeing of customers and employees," the company 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 company reportedly has a policy of shutting down a store altogether once 10 percent of the staff tests positive for COVID-19. Of course, the surging case numbers among the general public may be a factor as well, and holiday travel in the U.S. has exacerbated the surge in cases of the new omicron variant. Apple has been relatively cautious throughout the pandemic compared to some of its competitors. According to a report by The Verge, the company has reinstated its mask policy and has delayed its plans to resume in-office work for some employees.

To keep business flowing as steadily as possible, Apple is promoting online shopping – particularly its two-hour delivery option. According to 9to5Mac, the company was heavily advertising free two-hour deliveries in "most metro areas" in the days leading up to Christmas. The availability and cost of this service vary widely outside of holiday promotions.

The Apple Stores closed last week include one in Miami, Florida, Palm Beach, Florida, the Summit Mall in Ohio, Pheasant Lane in New Hampshire and Sainte-Catherine in Montreal, Canada. Two Apple Stores were closed in Atlanta – one in Lenox Square and one in the Cumberland Mall. In recent weeks, other stores have shut down and reopened as their employees recover from the virus, including stores in Texas, Maryland, Hawaii, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Ottawa.

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According to Apple, employees are tested regularly to monitor for the need for closures, and the store is not reopened until a sufficient number of employees test negative again. The company has reinstated a mask mandate in all of its stores in the U.S.