• The coronavirus forced Apple to close all of its retail stores in the U.S. on March 15.
  • With the coronavirus subsiding in some areas, Apple today announced it will start reopening some store locations next week.
  • Apple is currently planning to open retail stores in Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama, and Alaska. Apple is evaluating store reopenings on a case-by-case basis, and it’s likely many store locations in densely populated areas will remain closed for quite some time.
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As alluded to in the company’s earnings conference call a few days back, Apple will start reopening some of its retail stores in the United States next week. Recall that Apple closed all of its retail store locations outside of China on March 15 on account of the coronavirus pandemic. Early on, Apple was aiming to reopen its stores after just two weeks, but the severity of the coronavirus effectively forced the company to keep retail stores closed for weeks on end.

“We’re excited to begin reopening stores in the US next week, starting with some stores in Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama and Alaska,” an Apple spokesperson told CNBC earlier today. “Our team is constantly monitoring local health data and government guidance, and as soon as we can safely open our stores, we will.”

Apple reopening retail stores in a handful of states is somewhat encouraging, but doesn’t necessarily imply additional stores will open in the near future. Apple executives have previously indicated that store reopenings will be evaluated on a state-by-state basis. It, therefore, stands to reason that stores in densely populated areas like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

At locations set to open soon, Apple plans to implement a number of measures to maintain a certain threshold of safety in the face of the coronavirus. For instance, Apple stores — which are typically brimming with dozens of customers — will now limit the number of shoppers who can be in the store at a given time. Apple will also have temperature checks for employees and shoppers, though details regarding the implementation remain to be seen.

“Our new social distance protocol allows for a limited number of visitors in the store at one time so there may be a delay for walk-in customers,” an Apple spokesperson added. “We recommend, where possible, customers buy online for contactless delivery or in-store pick up.”

On a somewhat related note, Apple late last week released an iOS 13.5 beta which contains the exposure notification API developed by Apple and Google. Once developers start taking advantage of the API, we’ll start to see contact tracing apps which will inform users when they’ve come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.