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As the new Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to drive the highest case counts in months, Apple is being forced to temporarily close even more of its U.S. retail locations, including all of its stores in New York City and several high-profile locations elsewhere.
The store closures in New York City follow a series of similar shutdowns last week, although this is the first time in recent months that Apple has had to shut down all the stores in a single area.
Last week’s closures were a direct result of a significant number of staff members testing positive at various stores — Apple’s threshold for this is around 10 percent, according to Bloomberg — however they were also all over the map, ranging from Apple Dadeland in Miami to Apple Sainte-Catherine in Montreal.
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Most of these locations were scheduled to reopen by this morning, however at least four of them appear to have had their closures extended, with Apple The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach and Apple Highland Village in Houston, now pushed to Friday, and Apple Cumberland Mall in Atlanta and Apple Summit Mall in Akron, Ohio, not reopening until Monday.
Among the other four locations, only Lenox Square appears to have returned to some semblance of normal operations. Apple Sainte-Catherine in Montreal is open by appointment only, while the Dadeland and Pheasant Lane locations are only open to allow customers to pick up online orders.
In addition to those four stores from last week that haven’t fully reopened, Apple shuttered three stores the week before, of which only Apple Rideau in Ottawa, Canada, has returned to normal operation. Apple Brickell City Centre in Miami and Apple Annapolis in Maryland remain open for online order pickups only.
The reasons for these additional delays is unclear, but some of it may just be related to delays in testing over the holidays. Apple doesn’t reopen its stores until all staff members have been retested and confirmed negative for the virus.
According to Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, these stores have now been joined by sixteen more in New York City, including Apple’s flagship Fifth Avenue Store, although the closures don’t seem to be as extensive this time around.
Technically, these New York City retail locations remain open, but only in a very limited capacity. Apple notes in the description that it’s still offering “limited walk in services for shopping and Genius Bar support,” however clicking on the “See available services” link shows only online order pickups now available.
This makes a total of 19 North American stores that closed in some manner due to spikes in COVID-19 case counts. Apple also closed five stores in Washington state yesterday due to inclement weather conditions, and while all these locations are still running on limited hours, not opening until noon for the next couple of days, they’re otherwise operating normally.
Earlier this month, Apple reinstated its mask-wearing requirement in all of its U.S. stores, regardless of where these mandates were in place by local health authorities, and Apple has also announced workers will not be returning to Apple Park until some unspecified future date.
As case counts continue to rise across the U.S., it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll see more Apple retail store locations offering limited services, going with reduced hours, or shutting their doors entirely. So far, the closures have been temporary, but the length of these temporary shutdowns appears to be getting longer, as evidenced by the stores that closed earlier this month that still haven’t returned to normal operations.