A spike in COVID infection numbers in the US has persuaded Apple to scale back its plans to return to the office, according to the latest report.

Apple previously planned to require employees to return to the office in September 2021, following an extended period of remote working during the pandemic. Leaked internal communications reveal that the idea was to introduce a hybrid model, where employees would be expected to show up at the office at least three days a week.

But according to new information from Bloomberg, which cites "people with knowledge of the matter", Apple has now decided to delay the return to the office, which will instead take place in October at the earliest. Bloomberg says the decision was made based on increased numbers of COVID-19 cases as a result of the spread of the Delta variant in the US and the rest of the world.

The company is also "urging" retail store workers to wear face coverings, although it does not appear to be planning to require this. (Apple had an internal 'mask mandate' for some time, but dropped it in June.) In some stores, of course, employees will have to wear masks anyway, because of requirements by local authorities.

Apple's plans to return to the office have proved controversial. We've previously reported criticism of the policy from the company's own employees, who demanded a solution with more flexibility. Yet almost a month after those requests were made, the company was reportedly pushing ahead with the plan.

According to Bloomberg, Apple will notify employees at least one month before they are expected to return to the office.

This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation and additional reporting by David Price.