Some aren’t happy with what others see as a common-sense policy.

By Tim Nelson
Updated May 11, 2020
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Despite a continually mounting death toll, certain states and municipalities are in the process of easing up on their Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. While that’s welcome news for some, others fear that such a quick end to restrictions will only make things worse. Now, the policies of essential retailers have become a flashpoint for the increasing divide between those urging more caution and the people who just want life to go back to normal.

On Monday, May 4, big-box retail chain Costco announced that it would require all shoppers to wear face coverings while shopping, a policy that falls in line with CDC recommendations and existing guidelines mandating (or at least requesting) public mask-wearing in multiple states.

“We believe this is the right thing to do under the current circumstances. Although some may disagree with this policy or question its effectiveness, we’re choosing to err on the side of safety in our shopping environments,” a statement from Costco President and CEO Craig Jelinek reads. “As part of a community, we believe this simple act of safety and courtesy is one that Costco members and employees can undertake together.”

Though it would seem that the mask mandate was a well-intentioned and commonsense policy that a private business like Costco is fully within their rights to institute, the policy drew criticism before it was even instituted. Requiring a shirt and shoes for service is one thing, but some felt that asking customers to wear a mask went too far.

But for all the frustration over the mask policy, Costco seems to have garnered at least as many supporters for the policy as detractors. Clarity about the mask policy seems to have even lured back some shoppers who considered it too risky to make the trip once the panic buying began.

As some pointed out, the fact that people who didn’t want to wear masks were boycotting Costco kind of just ends up working out for everyone else.

In the weeks ahead, there’s going to be a lot of debate over when, how, or even why to reopen certain businesses and restaurants. As it is, some are defying orders and opening anyway. Even if the White House is now requiring staff to wear masks, expect the most visible sign of pandemic protection to inspire fierce debate until the pandemic is truly, finally behind us.