Costco to Require All Shoppers to Wear Face Masks Inside Stores

Customers hoping to shop at Costco will need more than just their membership card the next time they had to the big box retailer. Beginning on May 4, the company will require all shoppers to wear face masks or coverings. In a statement released Wednesday, Costco said that the new policy, sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, does not extend to children under the age of 2, or to people who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition.

"Costco employees are required to wear face coverings, and now we are asking that Costco members do so too. 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," CEO Craig Jelinek announced. "In short, we believe this is the right thing to do under the current circumstances. Although some may disagree with this policy or question its effectiveness, 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 new policy is in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has issued new guidelines recommending that all people wear cloth face coverings when in public and in places where “social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” such as grocery stores and pharmacies. Such face coverings can help “to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

The CDC does not, however, recommend wearing surgical masks or N-95 respirators, personnel protective equipment that should instead be "reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders." The CDC instead recommends that the general public wear non-surgical masks made of cloth. The agency provides a number of ways to make such masks at home, and there are several ways to obtain cloth face masks and coverings online.

Costco's new policy regarding face coverings is just the latest the retailer has enacted in response to the pandemic. The company has begun to limit the number of people allowed into warehouses per membership card to two. It has also shortened its hours and implemented special operating hours for those 60 and older as well as temporarily allowing priority access to healthcare workers and first responders.