During this unprecedented period of social distancing, smartphones have become a lifeline for many people. With so many families no longer having a landline, smartphones are some people's strongest link to the outside world while they self-quarantine or limit contact with the outside world.
That makes it important for wireless carriers like T-Mobile (TMUS 0.04%) to keep its customers' devices functioning. Servicing those customers is why the company has decided to close 80% of its stores but keep the rest open on a limited basis.
What is T-Mobile doing?
COO Mike Sievert (who takes over as CEO later this year) sent an email to employees explaining how it would be supporting social distancing. That includes closing 80% of its company-owned retail stores at least until the end of the month.
The stores that remain open will "operate on reduced schedules and only stay open for eight hours each day -- from 10 am to 6 pm local time for most stores," according to a press release. T-Mobile also plans to reduce staff at its In Care facilities (which are not open to the public) to allow employees to maintain distance. In addition, the company has increased hygiene and sanitization efforts at all of its facilities.
A smart balance
T-Mobile plans to spread the open stores across the country. Customers should only visit in an emergency situation where not having a working phone will put you in danger.
Remember that T-Mobile remains open for business online and its call centers are operating (albeit with measures being taken to keep employees apart). If you can meet your needs digitally or over the phone that remains the right thing to do.