Beginning Monday, Costco Wholesale will require members to wear face masks in its warehouse clubs, most of which also will return to normal operating hours that were curtailed in March.
Costco said in a U.S. coronavirus policy update on Friday that, effective May 4, all members and guests must wear a face covering that shields their mouth and nose at all times when shopping. The company said the requirement doesn’t apply to children younger than two or to people unable to cover their faces because of a medical condition.
In a statement to members, Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek said the move is aimed at better protecting both customers and store associates.
“Costco employees are required to wear face coverings, and now we are asking that Costco members do so, too. We know some members may find this inconvenient or objectionable, but under the circumstances we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. This is not simply a matter of personal choice; a face covering protects not just the wearer, but others, too,” Jelinek stated.
He also noted in the message that wearing a face covering “should not be seen as a substitute for social distancing.”
“Although some may disagree with this policy or question its effectiveness, we’re choosing to err on the side of safety in our shopping environments,” Jelinek explained, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a face covering to help slow the spread of COVID-19. “Costco has continued to operate during this crisis as an essential business in all of our communities, and our employees are on the front lines. As part of a community, we believe this simple act of safety and courtesy is one that Costco members and employees can undertake together.”
When the coronavirus outbreak escalated in March, Costco was among grocery retailers that curtailed shopping hours to give employees more time to clean and sanitize clubs as well as restock shelves. The company said Friday, though, that most U.S. clubs and gas stations will resume regular store hours on May 4. Also on Monday, Costco warehouses will open from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Monday through Friday, to provide exclusive shopping time for members age 60 and older and people with disabilities. They also will be able to access the pharmacy. Early opening times for these customers differ in some states and club locations.
Costco, too, is temporarily limiting the number of shoppers in clubs. U.S. Costco warehouses now allow no more than two people to enter the warehouse with each membership card. In Kentucky, Puerto Rico and El Paso, Texas, the shopper limit is one person per membership card.
Also on a temporary basis, the Issaquah, Wash.-based retailer is granting priority access at clubs to members who are healthcare workers and first responders, such as police officers, EMTs, firefighters, pharmacists and hospital employees. Those who present a Costco membership card and official identification of their role can move to the front of any line to enter the warehouse.
Overall, Costco operates 787 warehouse clubs, including 547 in the United States and Puerto Rico.
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