• Customers and employees will be required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status
  • Apple is not requiring its retail employees to be vaccinated
  • The CDC recently recommended that fully vaccinated Americans should still wear masks

Apple will now require both its customers and staff members to wear face masks in many of its stores in the United States beginning Thursday.

The tech company will now require vaccinated and unvaccinated customers and personnel to wear a face mask after California, the state where Apple is headquartered, recommended that people should wear coverings regardless of their vaccination status, a person familiar with the decision told CNBC.

Despite the mask mandate, Apple will not require its retail employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the company is encouraging its workers to get inoculated, the source said.

Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company is pushing its return-to-office plans until October, noting that it could be pushed back again, depending on the coronavirus situation in the country.

“We are monitoring things daily to really conclude whether that is the right answer or not,” Cook told CNBC.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday reversed a recommendation it made in May that said fully-vaccinated Americans would no longer need to wear masks in most settings. The CDC also recommended universal indoor masking inside schools, regardless of a person’s vaccination status.

While a majority of the new COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. are in unvaccinated people, data showed that the more contagious Delta variant could still infect people who are fully vaccinated against the virus. This could make them carriers of coronavirus and spread it to other people.

"The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and be an opportunist," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a briefing Tuesday, as reported by USA Today. "In rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others. ... This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations."

U.S. states are not obliged to implement the CDC’s guidance. However, several states and counties have reimposed indoor mask requirements, including Los Angeles, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Savannah, according to The Washington Post.

The highly contagious Delta variant now accounts for more than 80% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

A man adjusts his American flag face mask on a street in Hollywood, California
A man adjusts his American flag face mask on a street in Hollywood, California AFP / Robyn Beck