Most Apple stores will require masks regardless of vaccination status

Apple will require both vaccinated and unvaccinated customers, as well as staff members, to wear masks in many of its US retail stores, starting Thursday, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC’s Josh Lipton.

The move comes after the CDC recommended indoor masking for both fully vaccinated people and children in places with high rates of Covid-19 transmission.

On Wednesday, the state of California, where Apple is based, recommended that all people wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, as the delta variant of the virus changes previous assumptions about risk.

Apple built a reputation during the Covid-19 pandemic for making evidence-based decisions about where and when it was safe to operate its retail stores, sometimes making decisions before public health orders.

After a year of closings and reopens, each of the 270 US Apple stores had reopened by March 1.

Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC that the company had delayed its return-to-office plans for corporate workers from September to October and that it could be delayed again.

“We are monitoring things on a daily basis to really conclude if that is the correct answer or not,” Cook said.

Apple continues to perform at a high level despite many of its employees working remotely. Sales were up 36% on an annual basis in the quarter ending in June, the company said earlier this week.

On Wednesday, Google announced that it will also postpone its return-to-work plans until October and that all employees on campus must be vaccinated.

Apple does not require its retail employees to be vaccinated, but encourages them to do so, confirmed the person familiar with the matter.

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