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Apple to Reopen Some U.S. Stores That Were Shuttered Twice by Covid

Mark Gurman

(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. plans to start reopening U.S. retail stores that had been closed over the past several weeks due to local Covid-19 spikes, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is slated to open a small number of stores as soon as the end of August, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous discussing plans that haven’t been made public. In most cases, the stores will operate on an appointment-only basis for the immediate future, the people said.

Apple initially closed all of its 270 U.S. stores in March when the pandemic began spreading. It then started reopening locations in May, only to re-close more than 120 of them in recent months due to local increases in cases. The company is again opening the stores as Covid-19 infections slow their spread in some parts of the U.S.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the reopenings.

Read more: Apple Pushes Home Work for Store Team, Doubts 2020 Office Return

The company began informing retail employees of the imminent reopenings this week, telling staff that stores will continue to follow local guidelines for social distancing and the number of people allowed inside at once. The company has required customers and employees to conduct temperature checks and wear masks.

In addition to its U.S. closures, Apple has also re-closed stores in Victoria, Australia, one in Canada, and some in Spain.

During the pandemic, Apple has reassigned thousands of retail employees to online sales and support positions. Apple told staff that those workers would remain in the new roles for the foreseeable future, but they may be reassigned back to their retail stores depending on the needs of individual locations.

The reopening process comes at a key time for Apple, which plans to launch new iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and other devices in the coming months for the holiday season.

(Updates context on re-openings starting in the third paragraph)

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