Apple has lifted the mandatory wearing of face masks of its corporate employees at “most locations.” The Cupertino-based company is not, however, discouraging the use of face masks while in the office. On the other hand, it encourages employees to respect co-workers who prefer to continue wearing face masks.
Apple Does Not Discourage Employees to Continue Wearing Face Masks
In an internal memo obtained by The Verge, Apple wrote to employees, “Don’t hesitate to continue wearing a face mask if you feel more comfortable doing so.” The email noted, “Also please respect every individual’s decision to wear a mask or not.”
Interestingly, Apple’s decision to drop its mask mandate for corporate employees arrives despite the reported BA.5 variant of the COVID-19. The Bay Area transit system reinstated its own mask mandate because of this new variant. Apple first dropped its mask mandate for corporate and retail stores in March. During that time, COVID-19 cases started decreasing. But in May, COVID-19 cases rose again, prompting Apple to reinstate its mask mandate for corporate and retail stores.
Apple Does Not Specify Which Locations Still Require Face Mask
Another interesting thing to note in the email, written by Apple’s COVID-19 Response Team, is the fact that it does not specifically say which locations will still require employees to wear face masks. The email also cited that the decision to lift the mask mandates was “in light of recent circumstances.” It did not specifically state what those circumstances were.
Lifting its mask mandate for corporate employees could be taken as Apple’s little way of encouraging its employees to return to the office. In April, Apple started requiring employees to return to the office. However, the plan elicited various reactions from employees. Some were even forced to quit. In May this year, Apple decided to slow down its RTO order and allowed employees to continue their WFH setup. Those who decided to return to the office were required to wear a face mask.
Now, it seems employees who returned to the office may have been inconvenienced by wearing face masks. This could possibly be one reason for Apple’s decision to drop its mask mandate. It’s too early to tell whether this new policy will encourage more Apple staff to return to the office. Or perhaps Apple might reconsider, given the current COVID-19 situation in the U.S.