I suppose it's good news that, at least in some cases, Apple is beginning to look at reopening its stores. In March, the company shut down all of its stores outside of mainland China in response to the pandemic, and has only recently begun the process of opening them back up to customers. Stores in China and South Korea have already reopened as those countries have seen decreases in the rate of new Covid-19 cases.
Now, retail locations in Australia and a store in Austria will reopen in the next few weeks. Additionally, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, told Bloomberg that the company is looking at opening "a few" stores in the U.S. in the first half of May. The company hasn't said which stores that may include.
Bloomberg also reported that Apple's Retail Chief, Deirdre O'Brien said the company is "continuing to analyze this health situation in every location, and I do expect we will reopen up many more stores in May."
Aside from being able to once again browse iMacs, Apple Watches, and iPhone cases, one of the most immediate considerations for many customers is the fact that many of them dropped off iPhones or Macs for repair at Apple's Genius Bar. With stores closed, they've been waiting to retrieve their devices until those doors reopen.
Apple's approach is likely to be a model for many retailers. That model includes following the lead of public health officials for when it makes sense to consider loosening restrictions on retail locations, and then implementing smart guidelines to protect staff and customers.
Those guidelines feature many of the same measures we've grown accustomed to over the past two months. According to 9to5Mac, they include limiting the number of customers in its stores, administering health screenings at the door, and providing hand sanitizer. In addition, the company will ask customers to wear a mask and keep six feet between each other to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
A memo, obtained by that site, also said that Apple is taking its cue from public health officials, and has no intention of rushing this process.
We are continuing to monitor local conditions for every Apple facility on a daily basis, and we will make our reopening decisions on the basis of thorough, thoughtful reviews and the latest guidance from local governments and public health experts.
That's a reasonable approach to an extremely complicated decision-making process. It's also one that makes sense for any business looking to reopen its doors, and it's worth watching closely to see how well Apple is able to ramp up its stores while keeping everyone safe.
That, after all, is ultimately the only thing that matters.