In mid-March, grocery stores and food retailers around the world quickly adapted new policies to keep customers safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
One of the biggest steps American grocers took included limiting store hours to allow employees more time to sanitize the stores and restock shelves. Now, as many places start to reopen businesses, one of America's most popular big-box retailers has announced it will be shifting back to its usual opening hours.
On Friday, Costco announced that most of its stores will return to their normal hours of operation and no longer close early. This applies to both warehouses and gas stations nationwide.
In March, Costco, like many food stores, made the decision to close its stores early (at 6:30 p.m. in most states), and also restricted the number of people allowed to shop in stores per membership card. In April, it also gave priority entry access to health care workers and first responders, while continuing to provide special shopping windows for elderly and at-risk shoppers. Both of these relatively new practices will be continued for the foreseeable future.
The change back to regular shopping times will vary by location and shopping at Costco will still be a little different in the coming months.
On Wednesday, Costco announced that every person entering stores will be required to wear face masks or a face covering "that covers the mouth and nose at all times" while they shop. The only exception is for children under the age of 2, or individuals with a medical condition that prohibits them from wearing a face mask.
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While most stores will open at the usual 9 a.m. time, from Monday through Friday the first hour will be solely for members 60 years and older and people with disabilities.
"Only members who meet this criteria will be able to shop during these hours," reads Costco's COVID-19 update.
A few locations will have earlier shopping hours for seniors, including those in Massachusetts, Memphis, Tennessee, Oregon and Westbury, New York. Customers can call their local store to verify opening hours or check online.
Although the food courts aren't open during early senior-only shopping hours, they will reopening during stores' usual operating times, though with smaller menus and no dine-in option.