If you’re planning to visit Costco or Walmart in the coming weeks, you’ll want to brush up on recent changes to their in-store policies.

As of Nov. 16, Costco has changed its guidelines, and will now require all customers to wear face coverings while shopping in stores. The company’s previous policies, which were put in place in May, had allowed for certain medical conditions to serve as exemptions. However, as coronavirus cases rise throughout the country, the retailer is buckling down on its safety regulations.

Under the new guidelines, customers who have medical conditions that would prevent them from wearing masks must wear plastic face shields in order to shop in stores. Children under the age of 2 are an exception to the new rule.

“There is absolutely no doubt that wearing masks prevents this spread,” said Dr. Edward Ward, vice-chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rush University Medical Group. “I’m sympathetic to the folks who have those underlying conditions, but the other thing that we’ve found is they may be the people who are at risk for having the worst complications from this. So I would say those folks more than anybody really need to protect themselves.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, face shields are not as effective at preventing the spread of viruses as masks, but are the best option if wearing a mask is not feasible. Disease specialists continue to advise those wearing face shields to ensure it covers their entire face — especially the nose and mouth.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious disease, has previously stated face shields “certainly can’t hurt” in the fight against spreading the virus. The logic, of course, is that face shields also prevent the virus from entering the nose and mouth.

With doctors applauding Costco’s efforts, another large retail chain is following suit in tightening its measures amidst the second wave of the disease. Walmart will now be operating at 20% capacity, and will resume its practice of counting customers at the door. Walmart has been operating at a limited capacity since May, but had since stopped counting customers at many locations as cases dropped.

These changes will be particularly crucial over the next month, as many people will be heading out to do their holiday shopping. According to Walmart, its latest move will assist them with controlling crowds.

What’s your take on retailers’ shifting policies to help prevent the spread of coronavirus? Will the most recent changes implemented by Costco and Walmart impact your shopping plans? Let us know what you think!