Costco ending special COVID shopping hours

After two years, Costco has decided to end its special shopping hours that had been reserved exclusively for seniors, health care workers and first responders throughout the pandemic. 

Effective April 18, “Costco will no longer be offering special shopping hours” for those members, according to an updated COVID-19 announcement on its website.

This comes at a time when the “United States has made tremendous progress in the fight against COVID-19,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all declined nationwide, and “millions of people are at much lower risk of getting very sick from COVID-19,” according to the CDC. 

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COST COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP. 590.39 -0.70 -0.12%

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In early 2020, when the virus was rapidly spreading throughout the world, Costco, like a majority of essential retailers, implemented the special hours for shoppers who were more likely to get sick from the virus as well as health care workers and first responders.

In July 2021, the membership-only warehouse club reduced its special operating hours to two days a week rather than dropping them entirely. Since then, warehouses in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been holding special shopping hours from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Shoppers make their way through Costco in Idaho Falls, Idaho during its opening day on Friday, August 14, 2020.  (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP / AP Newsroom)

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Throughout the pandemic, though, Costco had been grappling with when to reduce its senior hours, especially at times when cases fluctuated. 

The company planned to reduce the hours for seniors and other vulnerable shoppers July 2020 but reversed course after cases surged.

COSTCO TO KEEP SENIOR SHOPPING HOURS AS COVID CASES RISE

Then, in December 2020, the retailer promised to extend its senior shopping hours “until further notice” due to the another uptick in coronavirus cases.