- Costco will require all shoppers entering its stores to wear face coverings starting Monday, May 4, the retailer announced on its website. The policy does not apply to children under the age of 2 and those who aren’t able to wear a face covering due to a medical condition. All Costco employees are also required to wear face coverings.
- The club retailer announced that most of its stores will resume normal operating hours on Saturday. The company had required all stores close at 6:30 p.m. over the past month. Senior shopping hours, which were previously held at all stores every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning, will now occur at select locations from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.
- Costco is limiting store entry to no more than two individuals per membership card. The retailer has also limited purchases of certain items, closed down service departments and food bars, and requires any shoppers carrying reusable bags to bag their own purchases. Healthcare personnel and first responders receive priority access to all Costco stores.
In a note posted to the company’s website, Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek acknowledged its face covering policy will be met with resistance from some shoppers, but that a desire to maintain high safety standards guided the decision.
“We know some members may find this inconvenient or objectionable, but under the circumstances we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience,” he wrote. “This is not simply a matter of personal choice; a face covering protects not just the wearer, but others too.”
The policy follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, which recommends consumers wear face coverings in public spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
A handful of states and cities, including Los Angeles, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, already require shoppers and workers to cover their faces inside stores and warehouses. Some independent grocers and regional chains have also recently instituted the policy. Smart & Final began requiring shoppers and workers to wear face coverings in mid-April, while The Fresh Market set its face covering rule for customers on April 14.
Requiring face coverings is an acknowledgement of just how difficult it can be to maintain social distancing inside grocery stores. Although companies have reminded shoppers to keep their distance, marked out spacing around registers and even implemented one-way aisles, shoppers are still coming into close contact.
Enforcement of the face covering policy will be a key issue for Costco and other retailers. Retailers want to avoid confrontations with shoppers, and workers are reluctant to police shoppers’ behaviors and risk transmission, CNN recently reported. According to a recent Gallup poll, 60% of consumers say they’ve worn face coverings while out in public.