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Local Apple Store Temporarily Shuts Down Due to COVID-19 Outbreak

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Apple store in Southlake, TX. | Image from Apple

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A Southlake Apple Store is briefly shutting down due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among retail staff. The store closed on December 8 and will reopen on December 13.

According to NBC, the store reported four cases after Black Friday on November 26, and now twenty-two of its 151 employees have tested positive.

Apple staff from the Southlake store attended a virtual meeting Wednesday, where they were told more of their coworkers had fallen ill. “They received a positive diagnosis and will return to work after ten days of isolation as well as forty-eight hours of being symptom-free,” said a store manager, as reported by NBC. They will also be required to take a rapid antigen test on Sunday before the store opens again.

Since reopening after shutting down for COVID in 2020, Apple retail employees in the US have been required to wear masks. They must also take a survey before they come into work asking if they are experiencing any COVID symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus.

The company also has a sick leave policy that allows retail workers to take paid time off if experiencing COVID symptoms. Apple’s protocol also requires employees to report their vaccination status. Vaccinated employees must take one antigen test each week, while unvaccinated employees must take two.

Despite having these corporate-devised precautions, Southlake employees told NBC they have not always been allowed to follow them.

Members of Southlake retail staff said they have previously been encouraged by management to come to work after calling in sick, even when their COVID survey results told them to stay home. Southlake employees said they were told the sick-leave policy providing paid time off would not apply to them if they tested negative for COVID.

Jeff Miller, who has worked at the Apple store in Southlake for three years, told NBC, “There were several occasions prior to Black Friday where I expressed concern about the inability to maintain even a semblance of social distancing. All hell broke loose on Black Friday,” he said. The store was packed so tightly that patrons and retail staff were standing “shoulder to shoulder,” most of whom were not wearing masks, as face coverings are not mandated in Texas.

Inversely, Apple spokesperson Nick Leahy told CBS, “Since the very first days of the pandemic, and every day since, we have prioritized the health and wellbeing of customers and employees above all else. As we continue to face these ongoing challenges, we remain committed to a comprehensive approach for our teams that combines regular testing with daily health checks, employee masking, deep cleaning, and paid sick leave.”

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