Apple will begin the long and slow process of reopening its 271 retail shops in the United States starting next week. Fewer than six stores will be opened by end of the week across four states, but more will follow, the company said.
Elsewhere around the globe, the smartphone giant has restarted business in all shops in South Korea, Greater China, Austria and 21 of Australia's 22 outlets. Germany's 15 outlets will reopen on Monday and Switzerland's four will restart Tuesday for a total of 94 stores around the world. Apple Stores in 15 other regions remain closed.
Most of its non-China stores were closed for months by the tech giant in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. With most states starting to reopen at least partially, however, Apple must continue its transition back to regular store operations.
The company closed most of its stores outside of the People's Republic at around the time Apple reopened its stores in China in mid-March. Apple made the call because the coronavirus pandemic contributed to worldwide lockdowns. Now, it seeks to bounce back from what Tim Cook calls the "world's most difficult climate" the business has come across.
Starting May 11, Apple plans to reopen retail stores in four states - Alaska, Alabama, Idaho and South Carolina. There are only six stores in those states (out of the 271 Apple Stores in across the country).
"We are excited to start reopening stores next week in the U.S. beginning with a few stores in Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama and Alaska," the tech giant disclosed in a tweet. Apple said that its team is actively tracking local health information and feedback from the government and "as soon as we can safely open shops, we will."
So far, only the Idaho shop's website announced a reopening, beginning Monday, with limited business hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A notice on the website showed that the store will adhere to social distancing protocols, which means customers may have to wait in line before they can enter and must wear face masks while inside the shop.
On Wall Street, Apple's stock wrapped up trading 2.5 percent higher at $310.13. The S&P 500 was up 1.8 percent. Upon reopening, according to the company, Apple Stores will concentrate on providing tech support and product repairs.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closures of the stores have come when millions work through quarantines, meaning that Apple consumers have been unable to get hands-on tech help from Genius Bar workers for malfunctioning or defective iPhones, Macs or other items.