Apple to increase COVID-19 testing for vaccinated retail employees

March 1, 2022, 8:52 PM UTC

Apple Inc. plans to begin testing vaccinated retail staff twice a week for COVID-19, a step toward dropping its mask requirement for employees.

The company announced the plan in a memo to U.S. retail staff Tuesday, changing a policy that had required vaccinated workers to test once a week. Unvaccinated staff had already been required to test twice weekly. At the same time, the company is now allowing employees to verify their results independently rather than providing proof. 

“Based on what we’ve learned from our testing pilot, everyone will now be required to self-test twice per week, regardless of vaccination status,” the company said in the memo. “In addition, if you were submitting your test results for verification, you’re no longer required to do so.”

Apple also said in the memo that it is reconsidering the mask requirement for employees and that an update will be shared soon. “At this point, team members should continue to wear a face mask in store,” according to the memo. The company is “currently reviewing our face mask guidance for team members.”

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, told employees that while it may need to adjust the protocols again in the future, the company is “hopeful that case numbers remain low and these protocols will be in effect for the foreseeable future.”

Apple has been gradually loosening its COVID-19 rules. The company recently dropped its mask mandate for customers in most stores across the country—in line with changing rules on indoor mask wearing from local governments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also preparing to bring back in-store Today at Apple classes. 

Though cases are falling, the company has yet to announce a new return-to-office deadline for corporate employees. Apple had previously planned to require staff to work from the office at least three days per week by Feb. 1, but that plan was delayed after the Omicron variant caused a spike in cases.

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