As coronavirus cases across the country continue to surge, the United States shattering the record for daily cases in seven of the past nine days, Costco is mandating an even stricter face mask policy. Beginning on Monday, Nov. 16, the wholesale club will require all members, guests, and employees to wear a face mask or face shield, including those with medical conditions.
Announced Thursday, the mandate does not require children under the age of two to wear a mask or shield, the company confirming that those young children are "exempt." The new mandate is a reversal on Costco's original mask mandate, which, unveiled in May, did not require shoppers with medical conditions to wear masks.
"Effective Nov. 16, 2020, we will require all members, guests and employees to wear a face mask or face shield at Costco locations… If a member has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they must wear a face shield at Costco," President and CEO Craig Jelinek announced. "This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. Our goal is to continue to provide a safe shopping environment for our members and guests, and to provide a safe work environment for our employees."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that face shields are primarily used to protect the eyes and does not recommend using face shields or goggles as a substitute for masks, as they have "large gaps below and alongside the face, where your respiratory droplets may escape and reach others around you." However, the agency notes that a shield may be necessary for "those who are deaf or hearing impaired." The CDC recommends that those who must wear a face shield should choose one that wraps around the sides of the wearer's face and extend below the chin or choose a hooded face shield.
Costco's updated policy comes as the U.S. continues to break daily records. On Thursday, the country recorded a record-breaking 153,000 new coronavirus cases, with The Washington Post noting that "it was the seventh time in nine days that reported U.S. infections reached new heights." Currently, nearly every state is seeing a rise in cases, with hospitalizations also on the rise. More than 10.5 million coronavirus cases and 242,000 fatalities have been reported in the United States.