Apple is closing more stores in response to the COVID-19 resurgence. Bloomberg reports that the iPhone maker has temporarily closed three stores in the US and Canada after increased exposures and outbreaks among employees. Stores in Annapolis (Annapolis Mall), Miami (Brickell City Center) and the Canadian capital Ottawa (Rideau Centre) will remain closed until December 18 or 19.
It is not clear how many employees have contracted COVID-19 in the affected stores. In a statement to Bloomberg, Apple reiterated a previous statement that it “monitors regularly”[s]pandemic conditions and has a “comprehensive” store safety initiative that includes daily health checks, masks, extra cleaning and paid sick leave. All employees will be required to undergo COVID-19 testing before returning.
There is no assurance that such closures will continue for the foreseeable future. However, with infection rates rising and uncertainty surrounding the new Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, it won’t be surprising if there are more until this latest wave dies.
The move also underscores the lingering risks to store staff in many stores, not just Apple’s. While many store employees are required to wear masks and share their health status, they can’t necessarily avoid sick customers — and there are concerns that Apple store managers have pressured subordinates to enter despite showing COVID-19 symptoms. Stores can minimize risks, but they can’t completely avoid them as long as the disease persists.
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