Apple to reopen select US stores this week with COVID-19 provisions

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Apple announced plans to reopen 47 of its more than 500 global physical retail locations this week with new COVID-19 provisions, reports Bloomberg. In March, the corporation shuttered all of its locations outside of Greater China to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, CEO Tim Cook said his firm would gradually begin relaunching its popular electronics shops sometime in May.

Apple’s Store Relocation Plans

The Cupertino, California-based electronics company outlined its plans to expand the revival of its stores on Sunday. In a website post, Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s head of retail and people, said her firm would reopen 25 U.S. locations, including shops in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Washington. The corporation will also turn the lights back on in 12 Canadian shops and 10 Italian electronics repositories.

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However, O’Brien noted the locations would not be operating as they did before the pandemic hit.

First off, some Apple shops will let customers in, whereas others will offer only storefront or curbside service. In addition, the firm’s accessible physical locations will perform temperature checks at the door and will require patrons to wear masks. The company’s retail staffers, also required to don face coverings, will provide protective gear to consumers who need it.

Besides, the corporation will strictly limit occupancy in its stores following social distancing recommendations. Employees will also ask shoppers if they have COVID-19 symptoms or have recently been in contact with someone who does before permitting entry. The iPhone maker will also initiate a series of deep cleanings that will take place throughout the day.

O’Brien also mentioned that Apple is conducting its reopenings based on internal, national, regional, and local data. As such, the company will close any relaunched physical locations if its local conditions indicate doing so is necessary.

To date, Apple has revived more than 100 of its stores around the globe.

The Demise of Casual In-Store Browsing?

In her public address, O’Brien noted Apple’s focus in the near-term is to provide customers with “one-on-one, personalized” in-store service. The executive also mentions the firm would be happy to send products to buyers’ homes and provide robust customer support online and over the phone. As such, visits to the company’s physical locations will likely be far less expedient than they were in the past.

The corporation’s new occupancy limits, health screenings, and cleaning schedules suggest wait times will be longer than usual. Consequently, the appeal of trying out a new iPhone or Mac in person has lost its luster. Moreover, Apple’s store policy changes indicate a broader social trend fostered by COVID-19.

In the months since the viral outbreak went global, corporations have had their teams work from home. Instacart and Amazon have seen massive surges in orders, and Eats has become Uber’s most profitable segment.

Even after governments lift their lockdown orders, the public may be wary of congregating in public spaces to complete mundane tasks. Lingering anxiety about COVID-19 will not keep people away from hitting the beaches or taking in a game. But potentially risking your health to get groceries or play with a new tech toy, especially if the activity takes considerably longer than it used to, does not seem palatable.

As a result, Apple’s post-coronavirus policies may be a signifier of a gradually nationwide move away from casual in-store browsing.

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