Costco to Provide Health Workers and First Responders First Priority When Entering Stores

With many stores now limiting the number of customers allowed inside at once, Costco has announced that healthcare workers and first responders will get priority access. The wholesale market is showing support for the people on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic by allowing them to shop first, saving them some time during this unprecedented crisis. The new protocol was outlined on Costco's website on Wednesday.

Costco's priority access extends to doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), police officers and firefighters. While others customers may have to line up outside the store and wait their turn, these people will be allowed in first, as long as they show a valid work ID along with their Costco membership card.

"Costco is temporarily allowing priority access to our warehouses during all open hours for Costco members who are healthcare workers and first responders such as police officers, EMTs and firefighters," the company statement read.

This is just one of the steps Costco has taken in the hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19 — the coronavirus — while still providing essential goods to customers. As customers try to reduce their shopping trips, the store has become more popular than ever, as it sells high quantities of food, cleaning supplies and more at wholesale prices.

Last month, Costco implemented special shopping hours from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for customers over the age of 60 and those with physical impairments, since they are at a high risk for fatality from the coronavirus. The store also began limiting the number of customers allowed inside at one time, based on the square footage of each individual warehouse. Other large shopping centers have also taken these steps.

Meanwhile, Costco is also limiting the sales of high-demand items such as toilet paper, hand-sanitizer and bottled water. Experts say there are no shortages of these items, only hiccups in the supply line as retailers try to recover from "panic-buying" related to the pandemic.

Customers are praising Costco for these and other steps to ease the burden during this outbreak. At a time with so much uncertainty, they felt comforted by Costco's initiative.

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"Thank you Costco. Most appreciated and a great way to help keep healthcare providers and first responders exposure time outside of work to a minimum," one person tweeted when the news broke. Another echoed the sentiment with: "Happy to see businesses supporting our first responders!"

For the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the CDC's website.