Apple is sensibly mandating mask-wearing at all U.S. stores again

In response to surging COVID cases, the company will also delay the return to offices for corporate employees.

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If you’re in the United States and want to visit an Apple Store, you’ll have to mask up. That’s even if you’ve been vaccinated and your local municipality does not currently impose an indoor mask mandate. The requirement goes into effect tomorrow, July 29, and includes both customers and retail employees.

Bloomberg earlier reported on the decision, which Apple made in response to a rise in COVID cases across the country. Apple has also said it will delay the return to offices following pushback from employees worried about the virus.

The more transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus has contributed to the surge in infections, sending the U.S. backwards and worrying health officials that spread among unvaccinated individuals could lead to more deaths and even a mutation of the virus that evades existing vaccines.

Delta variant — Apple told staff the decision to reimpose mask a requirement was influenced by new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, which has once again recommended wearing a mask in some public indoor settings.

Vaccinated individuals can still be infected and spread coronavirus, though are much less likely to do so. That’s good because the virus can change slightly in each infected host, eventually changing so much that existing vaccines can no longer protect against it. But many skeptics of the vaccinations remain, and requiring masks is the next best way to protect them and slow that spread. The best way, though, would probably be to make coronavirus vaccines compulsory in the United States, the same way children are required to get certain shots to prevent chickenpox and other contagious diseases.

In the last month, the U.S. seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases has surged, from 11,887 on June 26 to 56,635 just this Monday. This was all preventable, and ironically, we probably wouldn’t be going backwards and putting masks back on if it weren’t for the anti-mask, anti-vax brigades who think it’s all “fascism.”

Fortunately it seems even anti-vaxxers might be at their breaking point, as vaccinations are starting to creep up in hot spots.

Vaccine mandate — Earlier today, Google announced that it would similarly delay its return to office plans until mid-October, and require all employees to be vaccinated upon arrival. That mandate is legal under guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Google says employees with certain medical conditions will be exempt, but refusal on political grounds is a different story.

Other public and private organizations have also begun mandating vaccines. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that healthcare workers in the state will be required to get vaccinated. CNBC has reported that Apple is yet to decide whether it will require vaccination for corporate employees.