Apple delays its return to office until January.

Apple again delayed its return-to-office date until January because of the continuing spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s head of human resources, told employees in an email late Thursday that the company’s offices and retail stores remained open, but that employees would not be required to return until January at the earliest, according to a copy of the email viewed by The New York Times. She said Apple would give employees at least one month’s notice before asking them to return to offices.

Last month, Apple had been one of the first major companies to push back its mandatory return-to-office date as the Delta variant was starting to fuel a surge in U.S. coronavirus cases, changing the return date to October from September.

Since then, cases have continued to increase and companies across the country have told employees to stay home for the foreseeable future. Apple’s decision to delay its return into 2022 is further evidence that the prepandemic workplace is not returning as quickly as some executives and employees had hoped.

Still, many employees are happy with the delays. In an internal Slack group at Apple for people who support remote work, many of the more than 7,000 members cheered the decision, according to Cher Scarlett, an Apple software engineer who has pushed executives to allow employees to continue to work from home.

Ms. Scarlett said the decision to delay was welcome news but she and many other colleagues don’t ever want to be forced to return to the office. “I do hope that they see that some of our other concerns are valid as well,” she said. “A lot of people, whether they have children or at-risk people at home, just feel safer working at home.”

In the email on Thursday, Ms. O’Brien encouraged employees to get vaccinated, noting that government data show that 99.6 percent of people hospitalized for the coronavirus since January have been unvaccinated.

Last month, Apple returned to mask requirements inside its U.S. stores and offices, regardless of vaccination status.

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