Costco Rolls Out Another Big Safety Change For Members

Costco has certainly been seeing some difficult days as of late, as have all retailers with the COVID-19 crisis stretching on and on. While they are serving their shoppers as best they can via Instacart delivery service, they still need to serve members who choose to shop in-store.

At first, the challenges may have been limited to panic-buying that made it difficult to keep the shelves stocked and necessitated Costco's disallowing returns on certain items, but subsequent hassles have included accusations of price-gouging that resulted in a lawsuit and sales that continue to slump as social distancing impacts the store's bottom line. 

What's more, Costco, along with most other retailers still open during the pandemic, has been faced with the harsh realization that its employees may actually be in grave danger on the job, and some Costco workers have even died as a result of coronavirus. While the retailer has taken steps to promote the safety of both shoppers and employees, it seems one more major policy change is (quite literally) in store.

Face masks are now mandatory at Costco

As of May 4 (the first Monday in the month), Costco's website states that all Costco shoppers will be required to wear a mask or a face covering at all times while within the store, with the only exceptions being children under the age of 2 and anyone with a medical condition which prohibits them from wearing a facial covering. Costco also notes that these masks will not serve as a substitute for social distancing, so shoppers are advised to continue to keep their distance from one another, and Costco's recent policy of limiting the number of people allowed into their warehouses remains in place.

Some smaller retailers have already adopted a masks-required policy, but CNN Business reports that Costco is the largest one in the U.S. to have done so. Whole Foods parent company Amazon announced on April 30 that within the next week stores nationwide will be providing free disposable masks at the door for incoming shoppers if they don't have one of their own.

Costco's limited hours will return to normal

There is, however, one bit of good news for Costco members — on that same date, May 4, most Costco warehouses and gas stations will resume their regular operating hours. Keep in mind, though, that the hours of 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday will still be reserved for patrons 60 and older and for those with disabilities. Hours are dependent on location, so check you local store first.

Additionally, Costco continues to provide priority access for "healthcare workers and first responders such as police officers, EMTs and firefighters. Healthcare workers (which includes pharmacists and all hospital employees with a hospital ID) and first responders who present a Costco membership card and official identification of their role." These shoppers will go to the front of the line.