Apple Closes New York City Stores to In-Store Shoppers Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
December 28, 2021 Updated: December 29, 2021

Apple has closed its stores in New York City to in-store shopping amid an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Apple’s Fifth Avenue, SoHo, Grand Central, and World Trade Center locations are closed to customers, as well as smaller sites across the five boroughs, according to the company’s website.

Customers will still be able to pick up online orders at the stores, Apple said.

When customers click on any of the closed stores, an announcement states: “Please note we are offering online order pick up and limited walk-in services for shopping and Genius Bar support at this location. Face Masks required. If you need one, just ask.”

“We regularly monitor conditions, and we will adjust our health measures to support the well-being of customers and employees,” an Apple spokesperson told the New York Post on Dec. 27. “We remain committed to a comprehensive approach for our teams that combines regular testing with daily health checks, employee and customer masking, deep cleaning, and paid sick leave.”

The company didn’t indicate when its New York locations might reopen to shoppers.

Apple’s company policy is to close a store when roughly 10 percent of staff members test positive for the virus.

Apple officials didn’t respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment by press time.

This isn’t the first time that Apple, which is headquartered in Cupertino, California, has temporarily closed stores to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Dec. 23, the company announced that it has temporarily closed at least eight retail stores in the United States and Canada since Dec. 22, amid a surge in cases of the Omicron variant of the virus, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Apple closed stores in The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach, Florida, Dadeland in Miami, Lenox Square and Cumberland Mall in Atlanta, Highland Village in Houston, Summit Mall in Ohio, Pheasant Lane in New Hampshire, and Sainte-Catherine in Montreal.

Prior to that, at least eight stores had recently been shuttered before reopening in Texas, Maryland, Hawaii, Ohio, and Ottawa. Apple also temporarily closed a location in Charleston, South Carolina, in August.

The latest temporary closures come as Omicron and the other variants of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus continue to spread rapidly throughout the United States, affecting businesses whose employees are calling in sick.

Amid the worker shortages, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Dec. 24 cut the amount of time some fully vaccinated workers in critical fields who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate, to five days from 10.

On Dec. 27, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reported a near-record of 17,333 new coronavirus cases, while the number of people being admitted to hospitals for suspected COVID-19 has “gone up intensely,” he said.

“So, definitely some pressure on our hospitals, definitely a challenge, but much different than what we experienced in the past in terms of the impact it’s having on people,” de Blasio said in a press conference while noting that hospitals in the city are still “holding it together.”

New York currently mandates COVID-19 vaccine proof for workers and customers in indoor venues including restaurants, gyms, and theaters.

Also on Dec. 27, a statewide vaccination mandate for private businesses, part of de Blasio’s Key to NYC program, went into effect. Under the mandate, only individuals with at least two doses of an mRNA vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are defined as “fully vaccinated.”

All employers will have to keep full records of their workers’ vaccination status; those who don’t comply face fines starting from $1,000.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.