According to new guidelines from the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in most public spaces. Several retailers have followed suit, dropping mandates that require customers to don masks while shopping –including Costco. The popular members-only warehouse stores were among the first national chains to ease mask guidelines.
But the changes do come with a few caveats before going mask-free inside Costco stores. If you’re heading to any health care setting within the confines of Costco, the rules haven’t changed — you’ll need to wear a mask. This includes the Pharmacy, Optical and Hearing Aid sections of all Costco chains throughout the nation. The company also recommends all members and guests continue wearing masks throughout the store if they are in a high-risk demographic.
Costco’s Mask-Free Rules Apply in These States for Now
If you don’t fall in either of those categories which may require you still wear a mask, there are still two more hurdles you need to jump before heading to Costco without packing your mask — you’ll need to check both state and local jurisdictions to ensure no mandates are in effect. In the past week, the following states currently do not have any restrictions in place, although you’ll want to check with your local municipality before showing your pearly whites in the Costco aisles:
- Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas
- Idaho | Indiana | Iowa
- Maryland | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana
- Nebraska | New Hampshire | North Carolina | North Dakota
- South Carolina | South Dakota
- Tennessee | Texas
Check Your City (Not Just the State) to See if Your Local Costco is Mask-Free
While nearly half the states no longer have mask mandates, dozens of local, county or city mandates could remain in effect. Check with your local government for the most up-to-date news, but these cities still require masks inside Costco (according to most available reporting in the past week) — despite being in a state without an overarching mandate:
- Atlanta, GA
- Indianapolis, IN (note: mandate expires June 7)
- Minneapolis, MN
- Omaha, NE (note: mandate expires May 25)
- Nashville, TN
- Memphis, TN
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Madison, WI (note: mandate expires June 2)
Only Fully Vaccinated Individuals Can Shop Mask-Free
Just because you’ve received the vaccine doesn’t mean you’re fully vaccinated. In fact, even after your final dose, you’ll still need to wait two weeks before going maskless and still need to follow the latest CDC guidelines. Once you’ve reached the current threshold of wait time, you should be fully eligible for Costco’s revised mask guidelines — so long as no other mandates are in effect for your area.
But Costco Won’t Require Proof of Vaccination
While the new guidelines apply only to fully vaccinated customers, Costco won’t require proof of vaccination prior to entering its stores maskless. Craig Jelinek, CEO of Costco, stated on the company website, they are asking for the cooperation of shoppers and hopeful its members will act responsibly.
“We will not require proof of vaccination, but we ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy,” the statement reads. “As before, 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 following public health advice and applicable laws.”
Mask up for Others, Not Just for Your Health
Despite new CDC guidance and eased restrictions from retailers, we’ve yet to fully climb out of the pandemic. And just because you’re fully vaccinated doesn’t mean you need to stop wearing a mask. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “the COVID-19 pandemic is a long way from over,” so vaccinate and non-vaccinated people alike should still want to be wearing masks to help to bring the pandemic to a near halt even as restrictions are lifted.
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