Apple is preparing to reopen stores in the United States, nearly two months after the COVID-19 pandemic drove the company to announce closures.
The company said in a statement to CNBC on Friday that it will reopen some retail outlets next week in a clutch of states—Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska.
Apple will be implementing enhanced safety protocols at the stores, including limiting the number of customers allowed on premises at one time to ensure social distancing norms are observed, as well as health checks for staff and masks for customers.
Luca Maestri, Apples chief financial officer, told the Financial Times last week that the company remains focused on the walk-in customer experience, saying, “storefronts are still key.”
The company shuttered all of its stores outside China on March 14 due to the outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, the novel coronavirus that emerged from China late last year and causes the disease COVID-19.
“This global effort—to protect the most vulnerable, to study this virus, and to care for the sick—requires all of our care, and all of our participation,” Apple said a day before announcing it would be shuttering all its U.S. stores.
Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg in an interview on April 30 that the company plans to reopen retail stores in Austria and Australia in coming weeks, adding that he expects “just a few, not a large number” of U.S. stores to reopen in the first half of May.