This article originally appeared on Food & Wine.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Costco has served as a solid indicator of where America stands in our fight against the coronavirus. The wholesale club was already a quarantine-prepper’s paradise, so naturally, it was one of the first places people turned to when time came to stock up. Because of that, the company’s policy tweaks have been newsworthy. Costco’s choice to pull free samples for sanitation reasons was an eye-opening moment. And when the store limited meat sales earlier this month, people panicked.
Now, as the world attempts to ease back towards normalcy, Costco is once again there to show us where we’re at. About six weeks ago, the chain instituted a policy limiting the number of people allowed in the store to just two people per membership card. But now, Costco’s coronavirus response page—last updated on May 13—no longer includes the two person per card restriction, which is good news for parents who need to bring children with them to shop. (Exceptions include Kentucky and Puerto Rico, where the guest policy is even stricter: only one person per card.)
It’s now also been two weeks since Costco returned most of its stores to regular shopping hours after limiting them back in March. And yet, the Costco shopping experience is far from what it was before COVID-19.
Social distancing is still highly encouraged. Most stores are still operating with a special hour dedicated to seniors—usually from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Healthcare workers and first responders still receive priority access at all times. Meat sales are still restricted to three items, and some returns are restricted to prevent stockpiling. Notably, some departments still have reduced service, including the popular food court, which still has a limited menu and no seating. However, at least one Costco “connoisseur” was recently happy to discover that pizza by the slice had returned to the menu.
Finally, members and guests (except for those under the age of two or with a prohibitive medical condition) still “must wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose at all times,” a policy that was enacted on May 4. Due to the controversy around wearing masks, Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek even penned an open letter explaining the policy when it was announced. And there’s apparently been no indication as to how long that change will last.
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