Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple has enforced a masking mandate for its corporate employees and retail staff. Although this mandate has been revised multiple times since then, there are still some locations where Apple employees were required to wear a mask. Now the company is dropping the mask mandate “in most places” for corporate employees.
Masks no longer required at Apple
In an internal memo obtained by The Verge, Apple’s COVID-19 Response Team told corporate employees on Monday that the company is updating its health and safety protocols “in light of current circumstances.” Apple confirms in the memo that corporate employees no longer have to wear a face mask unless local health authorities still require it.
The company also recognizes that “everyone’s personal circumstances are different,” so it asks employees not to hesitate to keep wearing a mask if they prefer. In the same email, Apple also says that employees must respect individual’s decisions to wear a mask or not.
Earlier this year, the mask mandate for Apple employees was dropped at Apple Retail Stores in the US. In March, the company relaxed the requirement to wear a mask in some places for most of its employees. With this week’s decision, the company seems to take the next step in returning to normal activities, although there’s still some controversy.
The Verge notes that the end of the mask requirement at Apple comes at a time when the BA.5 variant of COVID-19 has been spreading quickly. You can read the full email below:
We are writing to share an update to our current protocols. In light of current circumstances, wearing a face mask will no longer be required in most locations. As always, please check Welcome Forward regularly for specific requirements for your site, including those from local health authorities, or any site you may visit.
We recognize that everyone’s personal circumstances are different. Don’t hesitate to continue wearing a face mask if you feel more comfortable doing so. Also, please respect every individual’s decision to wear a mask or not.
Thank you for all that you do to support Apple’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The COVID-19 Response Team
Apple and in-person work
On April 11, Apple’s corporate employees started returning to in-person work after two years of remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees had to work in person one day a week. As of May 4, this requirement was increased to two days a week. Apple wanted to increase this requirement to three days a week, but the company went back on its decision due to the rising COVID-19 cases.
At the same time, Apple has been facing criticism for its insistence on requiring in-person work for employees, with the company’s policies being more restrictive than other Silicon Valley companies.
There’s still no word on whether Apple already has plans to require full in-person work.
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