US Apple Stores dropping customer mask requirement on June 15

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Apple is preparing to loosen its requirements for wearing masks in Apple Stores as part of its COVID-19 policies in the US, a report claims, with vaccinated customers potentially able to enter stores without wearing a mask starting Tuesday.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple has enforced policies to minimize the spread of infections, including requiring store visitors and employees to wear face masks. In a change in the US that could go live as soon as Tuesday, Apple may relax its mask policy to allow some customers into stores without the face covering.

Under the policy change, advised by people with knowledge of the alterations to Bloomberg, customers will be able to enter the store without a mask. The policy is intended to allow those who are vaccinated into stores without the mask, but as employees are apparently told they cannot ask for verification of vaccination, this could potentially allow anyone into stores regardless of vaccination status.

The easing in stores is a change in stance for the company, which in May elected to maintain its existing COVID-19 protocols, including requiring customers to wear face masks, social distancing measures, cleaning, health screening, and occupancy restrictions. At the time, Apple's decision to maintain its policy broke away from the stance of other major retailers, which loosened their customer mask restrictions.

While the change will affect customers, store staff will still have to wear face coverings. Some U.S. Apple offices will also apparently be relaxing the mask policies as well.

"Given the progress being made in response to COVID-19 in the U.S., we wanted to let you know that a number of sites are now moving to the next phase of resumption and will begin to operate under Phase 3 onsite protocol," a memo to employees reads. "In Phase 3, where allowed, Apple protocols are being updated to permit optional masking for vaccinated individuals. Physical distancing requirements are also being relaxed in this phase."

On June 2, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote to corporate employees, asking them to return to offices to work for three days a week, starting in November.

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