Costco Shoppers Are Furious About This New Pandemic Policy

On November 20, KRQE, a New Mexican CBS and Fox affiliate news station that serves Albuquerque and Santa Fe, reported on how a group of 13 mothers was upset with Costco's new COVID-19 measure of only allowing one person per household to enter. The quoted complaint is from a single mother who cannot bring her children in with her.

As frustrating as this undoubtedly is, the decision to restrict entry seems to be locally made, rather than corporate. SFGate announced on November 6 that New Mexico had seen 1,287 new COVID-19 cases that day, a new record for daily case count. Ten days later, the New Mexican government issued a cap on all "Big-Box" retail spaces of 75 people or 25 percent of maximum occupancy, whichever amounts to fewer people inside (via KRQE). KRQE then picked up on the fact that Costco would implement the limit of one person per household.

While the people KRQE found then were more ambivalent about the limit, some accepting that it will help reduce the spread of infection and others stating again that they can't leave their children behind, they did hasten to add that employees would not necessarily turn members away for bringing their children. Moreover, if the member's shopping list is 10 items or less, an employee can book it through the space to pick up their items. If such things continue, we will probably see an increase in grocery shopper gig work.

The big restriction Costco has put in place

It appears the decision to close New Mexican Costcos to groups larger than one was entirely local. On the list of Costco's COVID updates, such a policy is only explicitly stated for Puerto Rican warehouses: "Puerto Rico warehouses will allow no more than one person to enter the warehouse with each membership card, in accordance with local government mandates." New Mexico receives no special mention anywhere on the page. That said, the limit could have been removed since the complaint was made. 

Before this, Costco had flirted with a corporate-wide warehouse limit of two people, as related by Thrillist. However, Food and Wine reported on the limit's removal in May, with the exception of Puerto Rico and Kentucky's one person policy.

However, one measure that will affect everyone is the new mandatory mask policy. In a statement released on their website on November 10, Craig Jelinek, President and CEO of Costco, explained that while there had been a mask policy in effect since May 4, people with medical conditions were exempt from the requirement. Now, they will have to wear a face shield when entering a warehouse. Children under the age of 2 are exempt.

As another wave of COVID-19 cases swells, we will simply have to accustom ourselves to such inconveniences and coordinate with each other to plan accordingly. Or, order online. That works too.