Costco updates mask policy, requires members with medical conditions to wear face shields

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Costco is changing its in-store face mask policy to accommodate customers with medical conditions.

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The retailer's updated policy requires any individual who is unable to wear a face mask, including those who have a medical condition, to wear a face shield to enter any of its stores. The policy goes into effect on Nov. 16.

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"If a member has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they must wear a face shield at Costco," the wholesale retailer's CEO, Craig Jelinek, wrote in a letter to members. "Entry to Costco will only be granted to those wearing a face mask or face shield."

COLCHESTER, VERMONT – AUGUST 4: Shoppers search for items at a Costco Wholesale store August 4, 2020 in Colchester, Vermont. The cost of groceries has been rising at the fastest pace in years since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. economy. (Phot

Only children under the age of 2 are exempt from this policy, according to Jelinek.

In May, the company mandated that all members and employees wear a face covering in order to slow the spread of the virus. Previously, members who could not wear a mask due to a medical condition were exempt from this policy.

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Instead, Costco reminded customers who faced such issues to take advantage of the company's delivery options on Costco.com.

"This is no longer the case," Jelinek said in his Thursday note to members.

Although the policy may "seem inconvenient to some" the "added safety is worth any inconvenience," Jelinek said.

The latest requirement comes as the nation continues to battle a surging pandemic. To date, the U.S. has recorded over 240,000 deaths and more than 10.4 million confirmed infections, with new cases soaring to all-time highs of well over 120,000 per day over the past week.

Health experts have blamed the increase in part on the onset of cold weather and growing frustration with mask-wearing and other precautions.

While there is no federal mandate requiring people to wear masks, retailers are doing what they can to enforce the policy to keep customers safe while staying viable amid the economic downturn.

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However, enforcing such policies hasn't been a walk in the park.

After Costco implemented its original policy, the company faced a backlash from customers on social media who said they planned to cancel their memberships and boycott the company.

In July, a customer at a store in Fort Myers, Fla., was caught on video screaming at an elderly woman who asked him to wear a mask.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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