Apple is dropping its mask mandate for corporate employees at most locations, the Verge reported on Monday, citing an internal memo.
This comes even as COVID-19 infections in the United States have been on the rise with the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant accounting for more than 90 percent of infections, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These subvariants have significant mutations from the earliest versions of Omicron and protection from vaccines wanes over time.
“Don’t hesitate to continue wearing a face mask if you feel more comfortable doing so,” the report quoted Apple as saying in the internal email. “Also, please respect every individual’s decision to wear a mask or not.”
Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment outside regular business hours.
In May, Apple told staff that they must wear masks in common areas — at least in Silicon Valley offices. Separately, retail employees were informed that about 100 US stores will again require mask-wearing by staff members as well. Apple had dropped that requirement in March when cases eased.
The company, back then, also delayed a plan to require workers to come back to the office three days a week, citing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. However, the company still expected workers to come to the office two days per week.
Meanwhile, some Apple employees had complained about the return-to-work plan, saying that it limits productivity. They’ve said that commute time takes away hours that could be put toward their work. Employees had also complained that the office-return ignored the lack of a vaccine for young children.