The policy tweak is intended “to further assist with our social distancing efforts.”
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For a members-only club, Costco is usually pretty chill when it comes to guests. The store’s official policy states, “Members are welcome to bring their children and up to two guests into the warehouse.” Good luck trying that at your gym (you know, when it used to be open). But the COVID-19 outbreak has forced Costco to adjust a number of its policies in recent weeks—and now, the guest policy is temporarily changing as well.

In an update to the company’s coronavirus response issued today, Costco wrote, “Effective Friday, April 3, Costco will allow no more than two people to enter the warehouse with each membership card. This temporary change is for your safety and the safety of our employees and other members, and to further assist with our social distancing efforts. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”

People queuing at Costco during the corona pandemic.Despite
Credit: SOPA Images / Contributor/Getty Images

Recognizing its place as a stockpiler’s dream store, Costco Wholesale President and CEO Craig Jelinek explained in an open letter to members posted on the brand’s website, “As many of you have noticed, we’ve experienced a surge of business during this time. As a result, we’ve taken steps to control the number of members in our warehouses and asked that members and employees practice social distancing.”

Costco isn’t the only grocer looking for ways to further encourage social distancing beyond politely asking. In the United Kingdom, the supermarket chain Aldi implemented a new “one person, one trolley” (aka shopping cart) policy to emphasize the idea of shopping alone when at all possible. And this week, Walmart made headlines with plans to implement one-way aisles to keep shoppers further apart.

Meanwhile, back at Costco, the change to the guest policy is just one of what’s now a long list of changes the wholesale has made in the wake of COVID-19. The stores now close at 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, open exclusively for the elderly from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, limit certain high demand items, restrict certain returns, reduced service in some departments, and have limited the food court menu (along with removing seating). In that sense, it’s amazing to think that just three weeks ago, some people were complaining that Costco was removing in-store samples out of coronavirus concerns. It’s yet another indicator of how quickly things have escalated.