Costco: Those with mask exemptions must wear face shields

Costco: Those with mask exemptions must wear face shields

Costco Wholesale will require employees and customers medically exempt from wearing a face mask to don at least a face shield instead, starting Monday. The warehouse club’s new rule comes as the nation struggles with the rapidly spreading COVID-19 that’s killed more than 242,000 Americans so far this year.

As with the face mask policy that has been in effect at Costco since early May, children under the age of 2 are exempt from the new mandate. The previous edict also gave a pass to members who couldn’t wear a face mask due to a medical condition, but “that is no longer the case,” Craig Jelinek, Costco’s president and CEO, stated Tuesday in a letter to customers.

“This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience,” he added.

Costco — which operates 802 warehouses globally, 558 in 45 U.S. states and Puerto Rico — said face masks and face shields should be not be viewed as “a substitute for social distancing,” and encouraged shoppers to continue the practice.

Other major retailers including Target, Walmart and CVS also require patrons to wear face masks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since April has been advising Americans to wear cloth face covers in public settings, and more recently updated its guidance to state that wearing a mask protects the person wearing it as well as others.

Face shields are used for eye protection but are not recommended by the CDC as a substitute for masks.

“CDC does not recommend using face shields or goggles as a substitute for masks,” states guidance from the CDC. “Face shields have large gaps below and alongside the face, where your respiratory droplets may escape and reach others around you. At this time, we do not know how much protection a face shield provides to people around you.”