Besides the official reports from states, the federal government, and entities like Johns Hopkins, there’s always been another, unorthodox way to gauge the severity of the pandemic: Apple Store closures. The company was one of the first major retailers to close its stores during the pandemic and has been opening and closing them ever since in response to fluctuating case spikes.
On Saturday, 9to5Mac noticed that new covid-19 restrictions and worsening outbreaks had led Apple to close all 53 of its stores in California, which as of Sunday had reported more than 1.8 million cases and more than 22,500 deaths. On Saturday, nearly 17,400 people in the state were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected covid-19 infections. Other outlets soon reported that these closures extended to Apple Stores in a number of states.
Gizmodo has also confirmed via Apple’s website that it has closed more than dozen locations in other states due to the increase of covid-19 cases, including all four of its stores in Tennessee; all three in Utah; all four in Minnesota; its two stores in Oklahoma; its store in Anchorage, Alaska; its store in Portland, Oregon; and its store in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In the United Kingdom, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson locked down London and much of the south and east of England due to a new fast-spreading strain of the virus, Apple closed 16 stores, per Reuters. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Apple would also close its stores in Mexico and Brazil due to rising cases. Earlier this week, Apple also closed all 18 stores in Germany and the Netherlands.
An Apple spokesperson commented on the closures in a statement to Reuters on Saturday.
“Due to current covid-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible,” the spokesman told the outlet.
Nonetheless, per Reuters, customers will still be able to pick up existing orders in closed stores over the next few days.
Gizmodo reached out to Apple for a comment on the store closures as well as to confirm the number of its stores still open in the U.S. and the world at the moment. If we hear back, we’ll make sure to update this blog.
The fact that Apple took this step in the midst of the holiday season is telling, and honestly earns it some points for putting people over profit. The bigger takeaway from all of this is the following, though: Be very careful during the holidays. Yes, vaccines are here, but the pandemic is still raging in the U.S. in other places around the world. As of Sunday, there were more than 76.7 million reported cases around the world, according to Johns Hopkins, with more than 17.8 million in the U.S. alone. There have been more than 1.6 million deaths.