Costco stores will require customers to wear face masks while shopping starting May 4

Costco has updated its policy page regarding its response to the novel coronavirus, saying that all "Costco members and guests must wear a mask or face covering that covers the mouth and nose at all times while at Costco." The policy will go into effect May 4.

"This requirement does not apply to children under the age of 2 or to individuals who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition," according to Costco's updated page, noting that the use of a face mask or covering should not serve as substitute for social distancing.

Costco had previously stated that the face mask policy would only apply to some of its stores before the April 29 update.

The new health guideline from Costco comes after a series of state social distancing policies aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, as well as other measures previously implemented by the warehouse retailer itself. 

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Costco announced on April 1 that it would limit the number of people allowed inside its warehouses at one time, allotting each membership card two slots while also setting hours aside specifically for customers over 60 years old. 

The company then said it would give priority store access to first responders and health care workers.

“Health care workers and first responders who present a Costco membership card and official identification of their role, will be allowed to move to the front of any line to enter the warehouse,” said the company on their website. Costco’s list of priority customers includes police officers, EMTs and firefighters.

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In order to curb shortages, Costco also implemented purchase limits on certain high-demand items to ensure customers have equal access to the products they’re looking for.

FILE - Customers wear face masks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus as they line up to enter a Costco Wholesale store April 16, 2020 in Wheaton, Maryland. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

An employee for a Costco in Bellingham, 89 miles north of Seattle, confirmed to the Bellingham Herald that the new face covering policy would be implemented at that location on May 4.

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Costco has not announced an official date on its website for when the policy would be put into place in other locations. No list has been provided consisting of every location that is implementing the new policy. 

The new rule follows a recommendation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early April encouraging people to wear cloth masks while in public areas.

The guidance from the CDC encourages people, especially in areas hit hard by the spread of the novel coronavirus, to use rudimentary coverings like T-shirts, bandanas and non-medical masks to cover their faces while outdoors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.