Apple is closing 11 stores in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina just weeks after reopening them amid an increase incases in the states.
“We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible,” the iPhone maker said Friday.
The closures come as the virus continues to spread in many parts of the U.S., particularly states that began loosening restrictions on movement and requirements for stores to stay closed.
Arizona and Florida have both experienced rising incidents of new cases and rates of those testing positive for COVID-19. There were 286.7 new cases per 100,000 people in Arizona over the past two weeks, which ranks first in the country for new cases per capita. The rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 1,024.1, or 143.1%.
The comparable figure for Florida has increased by 1,422.7, or 144.4%., according to researchers tracking the virus at John Hopkins University. The Carolinas have also experienced an uptick, based on the John Hopkins data. There were 179.3 new cases per 100,000 people in South Carolina over the past two weeks, which ranks fourth in the country for new cases per capita.
Apple operates more than 250 brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S., all of which were shuttered in mid-March. In late May, the company said it was moving toas more states lifted stay-at-home orders. Apple also said it is imposing social-distancing requirements in stores, including mandatory face masks for both workers and customers. Apple continued to sell iPhones and other products in its online store.
Apple’s decision is “a worrisome trend that speaks to the volatility and fluidity of this COVID environment,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note.
“During this surreal unprecedented time of health concerns across Europe and the U.S. in particular as these regions come out of lockdown conditions, Apple needs to put the health of its employees and consumers ahead of selling iPhones in the stores, and is a move we loudly applaud,” he said.