This Retail Giant Just Closed 20 Stores Because of COVID

The company acted in response to fast-changing conditions including illness among employees.

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant around the U.S. continues to create havoc for everyday Americans—not just as a threat to public health, but also as a matter of widespread inconvenience. To that end, a major retailer has been forced to close about 20 of its popular stores, many of which are located in dense urban environments, as a reaction to the latest COVID surge. Read on to find out which company is shutting doors across the U.S.

RELATED: This Iconic Department Store Is Closing 60 Stores, Starting in January.

Apple was forced to close 20 of its stores around the country as Omicron surges.

Adelaide, Australia - September 23, 2013: Apple Store in Adelaide, Australia, with pedestrians passing by outside the store. It is the first Apple Store in South Australia. It is located at Rundle
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Apple announced on Dec. 27 that it had closed approximately 20 of its retail stores around the country, The New York Times reported. The tech giant explained that the surge had resulted in so many cases among employees that some stores were both understaffed and also unsafe environments. A spokesperson further explained to The New York Times that some stores were closed as a precautionary measure amid the surge.

The store locations are only closed temporarily amid spiking case numbers.

The exterior of an Apple retail store with shoppers and staff inside
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Don't panic: Apple explained that the store closures were only temporary measures in response to the COVID surge, and noted that a number of the closed stores are located in Washington state. In addition to those closures in the western U.S., the majority of the closed Apple stores—11 of them—are located in the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island, according to CNBC.

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Earlier in the pandemic, Apple closed all of its retail locations.

Apple Store in Santa Monica, California
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Although the current closure of 20 Apple stores represents an inconvenience to the affected customers in the impacted regions, it's a far cry from what happened earlier in the pandemic. In 2020, shortly after the newly declared pandemic and prior to the rollout of any vaccines, Apple closed all of its U.S. retail locations as lockdowns proliferated around the country.

And in April of this year, Apple was forced to close all of its stores in the state of Michigan due to conditions surrounding a COVID surge there, per a local NBC affiliate. When Apple stores reopened around the country after initially shuttering, the company implemented new COVID safety protocols including sanitation stations for customers around the stores and the requirement that employees wear masks. It has also given employees access to at-home COVID tests.

Apple's store policies have changed in response to changing COVID conditions.

exterior of an apple store
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Like other major retailers as well as government agencies, Apple has rolled out an array of policies that have fluctuated and adapted to fast-changing conditions.

In November, with nationwide cases on the retreat after the Delta wave, Apple eliminated the mask requirement for shoppers at many of its U.S. retail stores, per Bloomberg. Explaining its decision, the company cited the decline in cases, as well as an increased share of the public having been vaccinated. Clearly, the situation has changed considerably since then.

RELATED: This Iconic Retailer Is Closing All But 6 Stores by the End of 2021.

Alesandra Dubin
Alesandra Dubin is a lifestyle editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Read more
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