- This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: July 20, 2021
Former child star Ricky Schroder made headlines in mid-May when he filmed himself throwing a tirade outside of a Costco in Los Angeles. His dispute was being required to wear a mask when entering the store after the company had announced on May 14 that it no longer required vaccinated customers to wear facial covering at some Costco locations.
“Didn’t you see the news? You didn’t see the news?” Schroder argued. “Nationwide, Costsco has said you don’t need to wear a mask.”
Schroder eventually left after having a manager terminate and refund his membership. But whether the actor’s outraged bewilderment was performative or genuine—or whether he’s even vaccinated, for that matter—some may be wondering what, exactly, is Costco’s mask policy?
The big-box retail chain decided to revise its policy following an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors. Exceptions include healthcare settings, public transportation, adhering to state and local guidelines, and any workplace or local business settings that require masks.
Costco’s revised policies likewise depend on state and local mask requirements.
In a statement on its website, Costco says that in locations where the state or local jurisdiction does not have a mask mandate, “we will allow members and guests who are fully vaccinated to enter Costco without a face mask or face shield.”
“We will not require proof of vaccination, but we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy,” the statement reads, adding that face coverings will still be required in healthcare departments, including pharmacy, optical, and hearing aid.
However, in areas with mask mandates, Costco says it will follow state or local regulations and continue to require members and guests to wear a face mask. The statement adds that children under the age of 2 are exempt, and anyone who has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask must instead wear a face shield.
California rescinded most restrictions on June 15, a symbolic moment considering the state was one of the first to shut down at the beginning of the pandemic (it’s still worth noting that a poll taken in June 2021 showed that 41% of people continued wearing masks even after the CDC loosened its guidance).
The move from Costco arrived on the same day that Walmart and Trader Joe’s made similar announcements that vaccinated customers will no longer have to wear masks in stores.
Walmart executives sent out a letter to Walmart and Sam’s Club stores on May 14 stating that “vaccinated customers and members are welcome to shop without a mask” while asking that unvaccinated shoppers continue to keep wearing masks in stores. The company also encouraged employees to get vaccinated for their own safety.
“[Trader Joe’s] encourages customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping,” the popular grocer chain likewise wrote on its COVID-19 page.
Costco also announced that it would end its senior hours that the company implemented at the start of the pandemic so that the older population could shop in the store before anybody else. Those special hours were to end on July 26, but the company changed its mind in the wake of the delta variant.
Regardless of its policies, Costco also says it still recommends that anyone visiting a Costco store, especially those who are at higher risk, should wear a mask or shield—even if it’s no longer required.