For the first time since last March, all Apple Stores in the U.S. are open for business. It’s a sign of growing confidence that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is fading in the rearview mirror.
Apple has confirmed that all 270 stores are open daily in some capacity, either for appointment shopping or for curbside pickup. Houston-area stores were the last to reopen on Monday.
All Apple stores closed in mid-March 2020 as the pandemic began to reach critical mass in the U.S. Apple had some experience on the subject since it closed all of its stores in China in the middle of February 2020.
Over the last 12 months, Apple has mostly followed local COVID-19 guidelines, closing stores when local officials imposed restrictions on businesses and mandated other mitigation measures.
Apple stores in the U.S. remained closed throughout April of last year but slowly began to reopen in early May. It closed stores again when cases began to spike in the fall.
Employees served customers from home
As the virus began to sweep across the country last year, Apple launched a unique program in which it closed physical locations and asked employees to work from home.
“If your store is closed, please sign up for Retail at Home,” Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and people told staffers in July. “Please talk to your manager, because we really need to make sure that we shift our teams to greet our customers remotely in this time. We may need to be working remotely for some period of time.”
The industry site 9to5 Mac reports Apple stores have had a rough 12 months. With the on-again, off-again store openings 2020 also subjected the stores to looting and vandalism during urban unrest, an intense heatwave and wildfire smoke in many parts of California, and a need for extra security protection on Election Day and Inauguration Day.
The latest setback was the frigid winter storm that socked Texas last month, delaying store reopenings in several cities.