Costco makes everybody mask up
Costco, among the first retailers to require face masks upon entry in early May, has taken its restrictions a step further by mandating that customers with medical mask exemptions wear face shields.
The requirement applies to employees, as well. The only exception to the rule now is for children under the age of two. The changes come amid spikes in coronavirus cases across the U.S., which has seen the numbers of infected grow by more than 100,000 new cases per day for 12 straight days. Hospitalizations are at their highest point since the pandemic hit the U.S. earlier this year, and deaths are rising sharply, as well.
“This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience,” said Craig Jelinek, Costco’s president and CEO, in a letter to customers.
Those unable to wear a mask or face covering were encouraged to use Costco’s online delivery options.
Earlier last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strengthened its mask recommendation, saying studies show they protect the wearer too. Previously, masks had been promoted more as a way to protect others.
Costco has faced confrontations from customers unwilling to comply with the company’s policy or exploiting the medical exemption clause although in-store incidents appear to have lessened in recent months.
On its fourth-quarter conference call on September 24, Richard Galanti, EVP and CFO, said shoppers appear “a little more comfortable” with the restrictions. He said, “We believe they feel safe, given the safety protocols and the mask requirements, the sheer size of the building itself and the width of the aisles.”
A HealthDay/Harris poll taken in early October found 93 percent of Americans indicating they sometimes, often or always wear a mask or face covering when they leave their home and are unable to socially distance, including 72 percent always doing so. In August, 90 percent sometimes, often or always were found to wear one, and 61 percent always did.
Costco’s tighter guidelines may be seen as unfair to those with actual medical conditions, and masks remain a political hot potato. Many Republican leaders have indicated they would oppose a call from President-elect Joe Biden’s for a national mandate, seeing mask wearing as a personal choice. HealthDay/Harris’ study found women, older adults and Democrats more likely than their respective counterparts to wear a mask more frequently.
- Coronavirus Update – Costco
- Updates and Coronavirus Response – Costco
- Costco tightens face-mask rules, and customers with medical conditions are no longer exempt – Marketwatch
- Scientific Brief: Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- COVID-19 Mitigation Behaviors by Age Group — United States, April–June 2020 – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Mask Use by Americans Now Tops 90%, Poll Finds – PennState Hershey
- Costco Wholesale (COST) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool
- Grocery workers continue to be at a high risk from COVID-19 – RetailWire
- Should face masks be mandatory for shoppers? – RetailWire
- Anti-mask shoppers find themselves publicly shamed – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree with Costco’s move to require customers with medical mask exemptions to wear face shields? Do you see mask requirements becoming less or more of an issue for American shoppers in the months ahead?