Apple says some in-store appointments will continue until December 22, after which closures will occur due to surging COVID-19 cases in California

Apple has closed its 53 California stores through Christmas, as COVID-19 cases surge in the state. 
A spokesperson confirmed the closures on Saturday, according to Reuters. The company updated its website for each California store. Some in-store appointments will continue until December 22. 
On the website for its Union Square store in San Francisco, Apple said: “We’re temporarily closing soon, but are currently open for pickup of existing online orders, previously scheduled in-store Genius Support appointments and previously reserved one-on-one shopping sessions with a Specialist made through Tuesday, December 22.”
The closures come during the holiday shopping season, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is usually Apple’s biggest retail season. The company times its product roll-outs for the fall, leading into the shopping season. 
In London, which entered a strict tier 4 lockdown overnight, Apple’s stores have also closed. It’s closing 16 stores in the UK, per The Verge.
Apple CEO Tim Cook at Apple headquarters earlier this year.
Apple/Business Insider screen capture
All non-essential shops were to close, as part of the stricter lockdown, said the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, on Saturday. 
“As your prime minister, I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me. Without action, the evidence suggests infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives,” he said. 
On Friday, Apple had announced closures for 12 California stores, according to Reuters.
“Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible,” said the company, according to Reuters.
Also on Friday, the California governor, Gavin Newsom, warned that COVID-19 transmission rates were at an all-time high, in California and around the US.
On Twitter, he said: “Transmission rates are at an all time high right now across the country. Simply put – everywhere you go, you’re more likely to get COVID-19 than you were a couple months ago. I know we’re tired, but we cannot ignore this surge. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.”
In the past week, California has recorded a record 293,381 new coronavirus cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. It recorded 1,624 deaths, also a record high. 
On Saturday, California health officials said hospital bed availability had hit zero in southern California and the Central Valley. They said December 28 was the earliest they would reassess lockdowns in southern California and the Central Valley. For Sacramento, this would be January 1, and, for the Bay Area, January 8. 
UK officials plan to reasses current lockdowns on December 30.
Apple previously had made mask-wearing mandatory in its stores, according to its retail FAQs. It had checked shoppers’ temperatures, put social distancing measures in place, and asked customers not feeling well to shop from home.