Costco is changing one of the safety measures it put in place to help keep members and employees safe after the COVID-19 pandemic began more than two years ago. According to Costco’s website, the special shopping hour is on the verge of being phased out after an announcement in mid-March. On Monday, April 18, the company will resume normal activities.
In March 2020, the warehouse chain began offering special shopping hours to those who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deemed to be most at risk for COVID-19 at the time. Since July 20, 2021, most clubs have had Tuesday and Thursday hours of 9 to 10 a.m.
The hours were originally designed for first responders, elders, those with disabilities, and people who are too unwell to shop in the warehouse without crowds. Many grocery stores across the country had implemented similar senior hours to allow more vulnerable people to buy in-store. As the number of instances has decreased, retailers are rethinking their COVID-19 safeguards.
The decision to eliminate the unique operation hours sparked some debate. Costco said in the summer of 2020 that the special hour would be reduced to two days per week from five, but reversed its decision a few weeks later as COVID-19 cases increased. A year later, in July, the chain stated it was eliminating the incentive entirely, only to reverse course later that month due to new pandemic cases. This appears to be Costco’s ultimate decision, with COVID-19 cases stable and the termination date nearing.