Apple reinstates mask mandate at all its US stores over concerns about rising cases

«Amid rising cases in many communities, we now require that all customers join our team members in wearing masks while visiting our stores,» Apple spokesperson Nick Leahy said in a statement Tuesday.

The iPhone maker had gradually relaxed mask requirements in some cities and regions over time, based on local regulations. Masks were mandatory at about half its stores prior to this week’s policy change, Leahy said.

Apple has changed its store policies several times over the past two years in response to developments in the spread of Covid-19, such as closing, reopening and re-closing stores on multiple occasions. The company has served as something of a bellwether for the broader retail industry’s response to the pandemic. Other US businesses including Walmart (WMT), Starbucks (SBUX) and McDonald’s (MCD) also reinstated their mask mandates earlier this year in response to the spread of the Delta variant.Some US states such as California and New York have also temporarily reinstated mask mandates indoors, with New York providing an exemption for businesses that require proof of vaccination.