England will enter a new lockdown from Thursday, November 5 to curb a steep rise in coronavirus cases, the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. The lockdown will last for at least four weeks, closing all non-essential shops, including all Apple stores in the country, just over one week before Apple launches the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max on Friday, November 13.
In his announcement explaining the lockdown decision, the Prime Minister said the strict measures will include closing pubs, restaurants, gyms, non-essential shops and places of worship. People will be told to stay at home except for specific reasons, such as work that cannot be done at home, childcare or education, exercise outdoors, medical reasons, and essential shopping. Ministers have so far refused to rule out an extension to the lockdown if COVID case numbers don’t improve.
Apple has yet to comment, but the lockdown will basically force Apple’s 32 stores in England to close until at least Wednesday 2 December, and will likely also include stores operating with an Express storefront, which means customers in the country are won’t be able to select in-store pick up of new iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 12 Pro Max devices when they launch next Friday. Orders of HomePod mini, which launches on the same day, will be similarly limited to deliveries only.
Apple Stores in Wales and Northern Ireland are already closed due to lockdown restrictions, while Apple’s Glasgow and Edinburgh stores will remain open under Scotland’s new tiered regional restrictions, which went live on Monday. Online pre-orders for the new iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max, which begin this Friday, and order shipments the following Friday are not expected to be significantly impacted, with Royal Mail and courier companies excluded from the restrictions. We’re still waiting to hear if the pickup point system will remain over the lockdown period.
Since the end of the first lockdown earlier this year, Apple has been operating its retail business with safety procedures implemented at all stores, including temperature checks, social distancing, increased cleaning, and a limit on how many customers are allowed inside its stores at once.
Elsewhere in Europe, France entered a national lockdown last week that will last at least a month as it aims to curb one of the continent’s biggest coronavirus surges and ease the pressure on its hospitals. In Belgium, non-essential shops will close until mid-December, as more than half the country’s 2,000 intensive care beds are already full.
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