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Costco puts new restrictions in place for shoppers to encourage social distancing

It's the company's latest effort to keep shoppers safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Entrance to large Costco warehouse superstore in Manassas, Virginia, USA
Entrance to large Costco warehouse superstore in Manassas, Virginia, USAGetty Images stock
/ Source: TODAY

As millions of shoppers across the country continue to stock up on essentials like toilet paper, pantry goods and cleaning supplies, Costco is enacting new rules to limit crowding in its stores.

Starting Friday, April 3, “Costco will allow no more than two people to enter the warehouse with each membership card,” the company said in a statement.

“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," the statement continued.

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Like other Costco stores, this Costco in Kansas City, Missouri, has enacted social distancing measures.Jamie Squire / Getty Images

A representative for Costco was not immediately available to clarify whether the store would permit exceptions for parents or caregivers shopping with multiple children.

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Costco has put in place several new policies over the past few weeks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Like many stores that have been permitted to stay open, it has reduced its hours, with warehouses in the U.S. now closing at 6:30 p.m., according to Costco’s website.

The big-box retailer has also stopped allowing returns on some in-demand items, including toilet paper, paper towels and sanitizing wipes.

Costco has also joined many businesses in offering special shopping hours for senior citizens. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Costco stores are open exclusively to shoppers over 60, as well as other vulnerable customers, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

“As many of you have noticed, we’ve experienced a surge of business during this time,” Costco CEO Craig Jelinek said in an open letter to customers. “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.

"While the circumstances continue to change and we modify our operations as necessary, we thank you for your patience and cooperation.”