Apple covers up again as mask requirements return in US stores

Apple Store logo
Apple Store logo (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Wear your masks again.
  • The mandate returns five weeks after it ended in some locations.
  • Concerns over Omicron.

Apple has reinstated mask requirements at all U.S. retail stores because of rising COVID-19 cases. The renewed mandate is effective immediately and was first reported by Bloomberg Terminal.

In November, Apple announced plans to eliminate masks in various retail locations in the U.S. as COVID-19 cases began to fall alongside increased vaccinations. About five weeks later, the iPhone maker has done an about-face with the uncertainly surrounding the new Omicron variant and rising COVID-19 cases. The move comes in the thick of the holiday shopping season.

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In a tweet, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said that some U.S. locations will also begin limiting store occupancy at some sites.

Just hours before this news, The Wall Street Journal reported on the results of a new South African study that looked at the new Omicron variant. The study is described as the "first large real-world study" about how two shots of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE's Covid-19 vaccine are holding up against the variant.

The study found that Omicron reduced vaccine effectiveness against infection from 80% to 33%. However, the vaccines are still proving effective in protecting against hospitalizations. With Omicron, the percentage dropped from 93% to 70%.

Since COVID-19 first arrived in 2020, Apple has often changed its stance on whether customers and employees were required to wear masks in stores and Apple campuses. Decisions, including the one made today, have followed rises and falls in current infection rates. For example, in July, the company began requiring employees to wear masks once again.

We've reached out to Apple about its decision to reinstitute a mask mandate at all U.S. stores. We'll update this post when we hear back.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.

1 Comment
  • Why are we trying to avoid the Omicron variant? Its far less deadly, about as bad as the yearly flu (which can be deadly but we don't mask up every year for it), its more contagious but recovering from it gives protection to the Delta variant which is far more deadly of which the current batch of vaccines are not very good at protecting against. If you are immune compromised, or just concern, wear an n95 (and please learn how to properly wear it and keep it clean). Having the masses wearing masks indefinitely is not living.