Over the past year and then some, one of the unorthodox ways to gauge the severity of the pandemic has been to look at one tech giant: Apple. That might be changing, though. A recent report states that Apple will maintain a mask mandate in its U.S. Apple Stores despite the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which in the past few days has given vaccinated people the green light to take off their masks in most settings.
Bloomberg reported this week that Apple had informed its U.S. stores that their mask mandate and covid-19-related procedures would remain in place for now. Apple’s purported instructions to its stores came shortly after the CDC relaxed its recommendations for vaccinated individuals on Thursday. Nonetheless, Bloomberg stated that Apple is continuing to evaluate health and safety measures. At least for now, it’ll still require everyone in its stores to mask up.
Apple told the outlet that its first priority was employee and consumer safety. The company was one of the first major retailers to close its stores in response to the pandemic and has been routinely opening them and closing them when cases go up. It has required all to wear masks in its stores throughout the pandemic.
Gizmodo reached out to Apple to confirm Bloomberg’s report on Sunday but did not receive a response by the time of publication. We’ll make sure to update this blog if we do hear back.
Apple’s reported move stood out when compared to other retail giants such as Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Publix, and Starbucks, which have all recently announced that they are ending mask requirements except where required to do so by state or local guidelines. Apple wasn’t alone in its caution, however. USA Today reported that Target, Walgreens, and Kroger also kept their mask mandates in place, although some of them stated they would be reviewing the CDC’s guidance.
Considering Apple’s cautious response to the pandemic, its decision to purportedly maintain the mask mandate in its stores isn’t entirely a surprise. Some experts were taken aback by the speed of the CDC’s decision, while others still worry that anti-vaxxers will lie about their vaccination status and put others, such as frontline workers and people unable to get vaccinated, at risk.
At the end of the day, Apple is a private business and can enforce mask mandates on its property if it chooses to do so. While its actions may not necessarily reflect the reality of the pandemic anymore, we’ve got other sources for that.