Apple opens all US stores for the first time in a year

External shot of a flagship Apple store

For the first time in almost a year, every single Apple store in the US is now open.

Apple first closed all its retail locations outside China in mid-March 2020. At the time, Apple described the closures as temporary, with company officials hoping to reopen the stores in April or May 2020. Few would have predicted stores would be closed for almost a year.

Since the original closures, many stores have reopened, but they closed again as American coronavirus cases spiked.

The reopening of all 270 US locations is a milestone and a sign that life is slowly returning to normal.

Not every Apple store is fully open for walk-in shoppers to wander inside and browse, though, as some stores are still offering appointment-only shopping. Before heading to your local store, you should go to Apple’s website to check the store’s status.

In addition to opening all its stores, Apple is expanding in-store shopping at more of its locations. For months, many stores have been operating only as Express locations for online order pickup. Dozens of stores in California, New York, and other states are now fully open.

Like many retail locations, Apple stores require shoppers to wear masks. As an additional safety precaution, the stores also operate with reduced occupancy.

Until the stores reopened, Apple found ways to keep its retail stores operating in some fashion, despite the pandemic. For example, in October, the tech giant started shipping product orders directly from its stores instead of distribution centers. This allowed customers to get their new Apple devices faster and kept stores operating.

The last Apple stores to reopen for business opened Monday in Texas, where a brutal winter storm that knocked out power in much of the state delayed their reopenings.

As for Apple stores worldwide, they’re mostly open except for about a dozen in France and Brazil, according to the company.

On a sobering note, there’s no guarantee that all 270 US Apple stores will remain open. The tech giant is continuing to evaluate COVID-19 conditions nationwide, and some stores could close again - or become Express pickup centers again.