Is Apple being too cautious?
Apple is temporarily closing 11 recently reopened stores in four states that have experienced spikes in the number of coronavirus cases.
The closures include all six stores in Arizona, two each in Florida and North Carolina and one in South Carolina.
“Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas,” Apple said in a statement.
Apple was one of the first retailers to close all of its U.S. stores in mid-March in response to the pandemic. In May, Apple’s stores began reopening with mask and temperature-check requirements for customers and limited capacity restrictions.
Numerous local restaurants across the country have likewise in recent days reopened only to quickly close for cleaning as staff members tested positive.
States are seeking to expand reopening efforts, allowing many bars and movie theaters to reopen, but many businesses are pulling back or pausing their plans as infections spread across states at an alarming rate. On Friday, Arizona, Florida, California and Nevada all reported record-high single-day increases in coronavirus cases.
On a virtual event Friday, Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren warned that reopening the economy too quickly “could ultimately lead to a need for more prolonged shut-downs, which result in reduced consumption and investment, and higher unemployment.”
On the positive side, essential retailers have managed to stay open amid the pandemic while adding a number of safety protocols that have largely been embraced by workers and shoppers. Temporary closures due to employees testing positive have become less frequent as cleaning procedures have improved, although a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Dallas was closed from 2:00 p.m. this past Friday until 7:00 a.m. Sunday for sanitization when some employees tested positive.
“Apple needs to put the health of its employees and consumers ahead of selling iPhones in the stores,” wrote Daniel Ives, at Wedbush Securities, Friday in a note. However, the analyst still described the closings as “a worrisome trend that speaks to the volatility and fluidity of this COVID environment.”
- Apple Closes Retail Stores in Four States as Coronavirus Cases Rise – The Wall Street Journal
- Apple re-closes some stores, raising economic concerns – The Associated Press
- Apple closes some stores again due to ‘current COVID-19 conditions.’ Is your store temporarily closing? – USA Today
- U.S. Economy Will Likely Need More Support, Fed’s Rosengren Says – Reuters/The New York Times
- Arizona, Florida, California and Nevada report record-high single-day increases in coronavirus cases – CNBC
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should retailers balance safety with the need to reopen commerce at this stage of the pandemic? Should other retailers follow Apple’s lead in states where COVID-19 cases are rising?