Apple in mid-April reopened Apple Garosugil, its lone store in South Korea, located in the Seoul’s Gangnam District.
Apple’s South Korea reopening has served as a test ground for further store reopenings, and Apple created an instructional video on reopening practices that’s now being shared with other retail employees around the world as they prepare to reopen stores. We’re not able to share the video, but it provides a good overview of the measures Apple is putting in place to safely operate retail locations.
Retail employees are following a strict set of guidelines that very heavily emphasize social distancing of two meters (or six feet in the United States). Apple is taking the following measures:
- Prior to when work starts, all employees undergo a health screening complete with a temperature check, with the results logged in a daily spreadsheet.
- Daily briefings are done in the mornings in the Forum area at Apple Stores, with employees making sure to sit at least two meters apart.
- Prior to being allowed in the store, customers are also given a temperature check.
- All Apple Stores are providing hand sanitizer, which customers are encouraged to use.
- Stores are limiting the number of people inside, forming lines with customers waiting at least two meters apart.
- Products purchased by customers or returned after repair are delivered from the back in a relay system, being handed off from employee to employee to allow each person to stay in a separated zone without back and forth.
- Product specialists and Genius Bar staff are positioning themselves across tables away from customers in order to maintain distance.
- In the forum area, employees sit one cube away from customers they’re interacting with.
- Employees are encouraged to communicate with one another through the Talk app to cut down on unnecessary movement within the store.
- Half of the workstations in the back are empty, with employees working at alternating workstations to keep more distance between them.
- Tables have been rearranged to put products on corners to prevent customers from being near one another.
- Products on tables have been reduced.
- Communal tables and couches have been removed from employee break rooms and have been replaced with individual chairs evenly spaced about the room.
- Operating hours are reduced.
- Employees are all wearing face masks.
After opening its South Korea store on April 16, Apple has reopened its sole store in Vienna, Austria, and 21 stores located in Australia. Stores in Germany will begin reopening on May 11, and all of the newly opened locations are following many of the same guidelines listed above to keep both customers and employees safe.
There’s no word yet on when Apple retail stores in the United States will start to reopen, but Apple CEO Tim Cook last week said that stores in North America will begin reopening starting in the month of May.
Apple plans to evaluate data and make reopening decisions on a city by city, county by county basis, following local guidelines and recommendations before opening up a store.