The Real Reason Shoppers Are Boycotting Costco Right Now

When Costco announced it would require all members to wear face masks before they are permitted to enter and shop beginning May 4, the company predicted the new change would not be universally accepted, even if the rule was intended to protect both shoppers and employees working during the pandemic. CEO Craig Jelinek is clear about who the store was protecting when he announced the new rule at the end of April. "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 wrote in a statement.

The new rule is the latest in a series of measures Costco has taken to contain the spread of COVID-19. Other steps include limiting the number of members per card to two, as well as setting aside new shopping times for senior citizens and people with disabilities. The only exceptions Costco will make for the mask rule include children under 2 years old and those who have respiratory problems. The face mask rule covers all of Costco's stores in the United States, and along with the new face mask rule, Costco announced it would resume regular operating hours.

Vocal Costco members are angry about the new mask rule

The new policy has triggered some Costco members who consider the face mask rule to be unjustified and unfair. Some say they will refuse to comply, while others say they will quit their memberships, and their complaints are trending under the hashtag #BoycottCostco.

Twitter user Talia said: "Adios #Costco! Won't be renewing my membership! I REFUSE to mask up for the low IQ mob that's falling for the propaganda, not to mention the health risks by restricting oxygen!" Other members, like Twitter user R Hunter [despite CDC recommendations], said the masks were useless against COVID-19: "Simply ridiculous! Not based on science but fear. Learn the fact of the virus Costco. Until you lift your requirement I will not shop there. Sam's [Club] is just across the street!" Some also said they were voting on Costco's new policy with their feet: "#boytcottcostco — I Will be getting a refund for the remainder of my Costco membership. I suggest everyone do the same. Know your constitutional rights!" Twitter user chuck lorre fan said.

But not all of Twitter who posted with #BoycottCostco was against the new policy. User BKNerdy tweeted: "You are all a bunch of crybabies. Where I live we have to wear face masks if we want to go to ANY store! And that is the way it should be. Get over yourselves you privileged POS's #boycottcostco"

Costco employees say they're also unhappy with the company

Shoppers may be unhappy with Costco over the new face mask rule, but it shouldn't expect any love from some of its employees, who aren't happy with the company either. BuzzFeed News reports that dozens of employees across the country say Costco has all but abandoned social distancing protocols in many of their stores. Store managers stand accused of increasing the number of people allowed in the store at any time, making it a challenge to maintain social distancing protocols. Some employees say they have also seen members of Costco's corporate leadership visit the stores, and to ask for cones and tape which mark social distancing queues to be removed. "[Management] is in fear of turning people away. They still do not care that we are in the middle of a pandemic. They just want sales. They are allowing up to 600 people in the store at a time. Employees have to dodge people like it's a minefield. It's just a complete breakdown at every level," one Texas-based Costco employee told BuzzFeed News

BuzzFeed News also reports that Costco has refused to address these media enquiries, but in a past internal email, Craig Jelinek told restless employees that as a company, "We've undertaken countless and extraordinary changes in our warehouses ... for the health, safety, and well being of our employees and members."

Costco appears determined to follow the CDC's face mask guidelines

No matter what its disgruntled members or employees say, Costco appears to be sticking to its guns over the face mask policy for now. Its CEO says "...we're choosing to err on the side of safety in our shopping environments. 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."

The company also reminded its members that the CDC recommendation on the use of face masks is clear: People should use cloth face coverings "in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission." It also continues to emphasize the importance of social distancing along with the use of face masks, to prevent people who might be asymptomatic from spreading the virus to people who are well.