| USA TODAY
Costco will no longer make an exemption for people who say they cannot wear a face mask due to a health problem.
The updated wholesale club face masks policy goes into effect Monday and requires all members, guests and employees to wear a face mask or face shield when shopping at nearly 560 clubs across the country.
“If a member has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they should wear a face shield at Costco,” retailer president and CEO Craig Jelinek wrote in a letter to members, noting that the Entry to Costco “will only be granted to those who wear a face mask or face shield.” ”
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Children under 2 continue to be exempt from wearing a face mask with the updated policy.
“This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, but we believe the added security is worth any inconvenience,” Jelinek wrote. “Our goal is to continue to provide a safe shopping environment for our members and guests, and to provide a safe working environment for our employees.”
Costco’s original policy went into effect in early May and did not require buyers with health concerns to wear masks.
Costco says the use of face masks is not a substitute for social distancing and notes that it offers delivery options on its website for “members who cannot wear a mask or mask.”
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Thirty-five states – plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – now require people to wear face coverings statewide, according to a list maintained by the AARP. Utah and North Dakota have joined the list in recent days, and Maine, Ohio and West Virginia strengthened their mandates this week.
Respect for masks has sparked debate throughout the pandemic, as Americans have received conflicting messages from authorities over whether they should wear a face mask in public places.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said for months that wearing masks is slowing the spread of COVID-19.
As the country moved into the stay-at-home era, viral videos of conflicts over mask requirements in businesses became commonplace. A handful of viral videos of shoppers refusing to wear masks have been taken by Costco shoppers.
At the end of August, the CDC released new guidelines for businesses operating during the pandemic: don’t argue with buyers who don’t wear masks.
“Don’t argue with clients if they make threats or become violent,” the CDC advised in recommendations to curb the violence that occurs when some people don’t want to follow COVID-19 prevention policies. “Don’t try to force anyone who seems angry or violent to follow COVID-19 prevention policies. ”
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Contributing: Grace Hauck and Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko