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Costco is now requiring people with medical mask exceptions to wear face shields

Costco's initial policy let people with medical conditions opt out of wearing a face mask.
Costco customers
Customers wear face masks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus as they line up to enter a Costco Wholesale store on April 16, 2020.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file
/ Source: TODAY

Costco is updating its face mask policy to include a new requirement for members who have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a covering over their mouth and nose.

As of November 16, everyone will have to wear either a face mask or a face shield to enter the warehouse store, the company announced on its COVID-19 updates site.

"Members and guests must wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose at all times," Costco wrote on its website. "Individuals who are unable to wear a face mask due to a medical condition must wear a face shield. ... Entry to Costco will be granted only to those wearing a face mask or face shield."

Costco was one of the first retailers to enact a mandatory mask policy in early May, however the initial requirement excluded members who claim to have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering.

“This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience,” Costco president and CEO Craig Jelinek wrote in a letter to members that explained the change. "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.”

While customers are required to have some variation of a face covering in order to enter the store, Costco warned that it should not be seen as a substitute for social distancing.

Mandatory face mask policies have sparked debate and led to confrontations in stores around the United States after people received mixed messages about whether they're necessary and effective to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Costco made it clear it has an option for shoppers who can't cover up or don't want to.

"For members who are unable to wear a mask or face covering, Costco has delivery options available on," the company wrote in the announcement. "Thank you for your understanding and cooperation."