Costco is dropping medical exemptions and requiring all customers to wear masks or face shields

Costco wholesale storefront with sign

Costco is doubling down on its face mask policy in the fight against COVID-19.

Starting Nov. 16, Costco will require everyone to wear a face mask or face shield at all Costco locations, according to a statement released by the company.

“Entry to Costco will only be granted to those wearing a face mask or face shield. Children under the age of 2 are exempt,” the statement reads.

This updated policy drops the medical exemption previously allowed by Costco in its initial mask policy released on May 4.

“If a member has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they must wear a face shield at Costco,” said Craig Jelinek, Costco Wholesale president and CEO.

Twitter user @tennis_freak spotted a sign about the updated policy at her local Costco near Vancouver:

Since reopening in May, Costco employees have seen numerous customers unwilling to comply with the company’s policy or exploiting the medical exemption clause. Some of these customers’ angry reactions to being asked to wear a mask have been shared on social media.

In his statement about the updated policy, Jelinek acknowledged some customers may not like the changes, but they are necessary to keep everyone healthy and safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however, we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience,” Jelinek said in the statement. “Our goal is to continue to provide a safe shopping environment for our members and guests, and to provide a safe work environment for our employees.”

Costco’s mask policy change comes as the U.S. is seeing a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases across the country. In its Nov. 12 update, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 94% of U.S. jurisdictions are experiencing increases in positive COVID-19 cases. On Nov. 11, the CDC shared the US had 143,408 new cases, a record for a single day count.

Also, in its latest scientific brief, the CDC highlighted how current research shows that wearing a face mask not only protects others from contracting COVID-19, but also the person wearing it.

According to this report, “Studies demonstrate that cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration, including filtration of fine droplets and particles less than 10 microns.”

In other words, wearing a mask is a two-way benefit: to yourself and those around you.

About the Author

Marie Rossiter

Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World. You can find her writing about her personal health journey at and connect with her at Learn More.