Apple will again require masks to be worn in all its US retail stores in response to Covid-19 infections that are rising across the country.
The company made the change on Tuesday, with the web sites for its stores stating that face coverings would be required while visiting those locations, regardless of vaccination status.
“We regularly monitor conditions and we will adjust our health measures in stores to support the wellbeing of customers and employees,” Apple said in an emailed statement to the Financial Times.
“Amid rising cases in many communities, we now require that all customers join our team members in wearing masks while visiting our stores.”
In recent weeks, Apple dropped mask requirements for customers in many US states, following local regulations and rendering face coverings optional for visitors in about half the locations within its retail store network.
However, daily Covid-19 case rates across the country have since started rising, particularly in cold-weather states where residents are spending more time indoors.
The US has averaged more than 116,000 new Covid-19 cases a day over the past week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That represents a more than 80 per cent increase since a three-month low in late October, but is down about 29 per cent from high levels over summer and compares with rates of more than 200,000 cases a day this time last year.
Several states, including Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Washington, have mask mandates in place, requiring residents to wear face coverings in indoor public places, regardless of vaccination status. A similar requirement takes effect on Wednesday in Apple’s home state of California.