Apple stores drop mask mandates, plan return of in-store classes

Apple Inc. has dropped its mask requirement at most retail stores across the U.S., following reduced Covid-19 cases and changes in local mandates. The iPhone maker also is ramping up for the return of in-store classes.

The company announced the changes this week to employees at eligible stores and has updated its website to reflect which locations are no longer requiring masks. Apple, however, will continue to recommend that customers wear masks and will provide them upon request. Apple retail workers will still be required to wear masks, employees say.

The change in mask policy applies to stores in states including Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky and others that have ended mandates. Customers must wear masks in stores in the few states with stricter guidelines, such as Hawaii. Apple’s locations in New York have also made masks optional for customers who are fully vaccinated.

An Apple spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment on the changes.

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant also is planning to resume in-store classes, called Today at Apple, at several locations across the country. Classes offer tips on using the company’s devices and software. Some stores will see classes return as early as this week, while many stores are targeting March for classes to begin again. Apple also is expected to introduce new models of the iPhone SE, iPad Air and Macs early in March.

Over the past two years, Apple has adjusted mask rules and in-store classes depending on the state of the pandemic. The company dropped its retail store mask mandate last November, only to restore it a month later amid the spread of the omicron variant. Apple has also delayed its office return indefinitely for corporate employees.

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