Apple has reopened all of its US retail stores for the first time in nearly a year

Every Apple Store location in the US has reopened as of today, roughly two weeks prior to the anniversary of the first store closures due to the coronavirus pandemic that began on March 13th, 2020. The news, reported by 9to5Mac this morning, coincides with the last of Apple’s Texas retail stores reopening on Monday. Apple also confirmed that all 270 US Apple Store locations are now open in some capacity for either in-store shopping or online order pickup.

This, of course, has no direct correlation with the rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the US; Apple, in many cases, follows local health guidelines and has preemptively closed its retail stores in some instances. But it does signal that Apple feels confident in its restrictions on in-store shopping at certain locations and the safety measures it has put in place, which include mandated face masks and limited occupancy.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced nearly a year ago that the company would close all of its retail locations outside of mainland China until the end of the month. At the time, Apple had been developing its COVID-19 mitigation strategy for its China network of stores, which had first started closing on February 1st prior to the coronavirus’ widespread outbreak in the US. On March 17th, Apple said it would keep all retail stores outside China closed indefinitely as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed around the world.

What followed in the months after involved a complex mix of store openings and closures as Apple adhered to local and state health guidelines and also prioritized the safety of its own retail employees. In some cases, stores were opened in limited capacity only to close again later on, while others stayed shut for extended periods of time.

Apple began enacting its official reopening strategy in the US in early May and that carried on for months through the summer into the fall. Yet Apple has shown a willingness to act fast in responding to changing conditions. In December 2020, it shuttered every store in California and London as case numbers surged through the holidays. Early last month, Apple temporally closed every store in the UK.