If Apple Stores Start Reopening, Will That Mean It’s Safe To Go Outside?

Maybe, but be careful about reading too much into it…

Apple’s home page, today.

Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail and People did apparently put out a memo saying:

“We anticipate some stores may be able to open in the first half of April depending on the conditions in their community.”

We got the text of that memo from 9to5mac.com, which keeps a close eye on Apple rumors and news. Now normally we wouldn’t put out a story about a memo that we can’t even confirm is real. But lots of people are reacting like it is.

And more important than that: many people probably would view Apple stores reopening their doors as a signal that life is getting back to normal. Sort of like an urban version of the well-known “Waffle House Index”. (And if you don’t know what that is, click on this link.)

Apple will not comment on the memo, because it was apparently only intended for internal distribution. Also, when Apple officially announced it was closing its U.S. stores on March 13th, it said at the time those closings would be in effect until March 27th. So the new memo could be viewed as an extension of that initial closure, rather than a disclosure of a firm reopening date.

But because the mid-April time frame mentioned in the memo “dovetails” (as one Far Right media outlet we won’t link to puts it), with President Trump’s objective to “reopen the economy” by Easter, we’ve seen a fair number of Far Right voices attempting to draw a connection: that Apple is “following the President’s lead”.

That’s also why we say to be real careful about reading too much into a transmission to its employees that Apple didn’t even officially make public.

First of all, if accurate Apple’s pretty clearly not talking just about its U.S. stores, this applies to all Apple stores globally. First line of the memo:

I want to say thank you to our teams — all our teams, across every office, every store and every country“.

The not-officially-confirmed memo also states:

[W]e will reopen our stores on a staggered basis“.

So it wouldn’t be reopening all its stores at once. So it’s extremely unlikely the first stores to be reopened will be in the U.S. Especially considering it still has stores closed in Singapore and South Korea, for instance, which seem farther ahead on the curve, and/or are better controlling and testing for the virus.

Apple’s already reopened all its stores in China. In the memo, the SVP asserts those reopenings have happened:

[W]ith all the necessary measures in place.”

We combed through media coverage of the store reopenings in China, but couldn’t find any information about what new temporary or permanent safety measures Apple put in place in those stores for its employees and customers when they reopened. But Apple doesn’t really have an obligation to tell us what it might do to facilitate its U.S. stores’ reopening at this point in time. Since nothing about this is official.

No matter how badly some people want to turn this into an endorsement of Trump’s about-face on his Coronavirus response..

You know what also might also signal the COVID-19 threat is abating and it’s OK to get up and outside? President Trump paying a visit to New York. We’d put our money on the Apple stores reopening there before there’s any chance of that happening.