All Costco shoppers, even those with a medical exemption, will be required to wear a mask or face shield at starting Monday, according to a letter to customers from CEO Craig Jelinek.

The chain with 20 locations in New Jersey will end the exemption that's been in place since May. Children under the age of 2 do not have to wear any face covering.

"This updated policy may seem inconvenient to some, however we believe the added safety is worth any inconvenience. 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," Jelinek wrote.

Costco members with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing face coverings or masks are asked to wear face shields instead.

The store's coronavirus policy said that wearing a face covering is not a substitute for social distancing, which must be observe while at Costco stores.

Jelinek did not reveal what caused the policy change.

An executive order by Gov. Phil Murphy requires face coverings to be worn in all indoor spaces open to the public including retail locations.

The latest guidance used by the CDC about face coverings recommends masks as the best way to reduce community transmission of coronavirus although shields and neck gaiters are acceptable.  An N95 respirator blocked 99% of the cough aerosol, a medical grade procedure mask blocked 59%, a 3-ply cotton cloth face mask blocked 51%.

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A polyester neck gaiter blocked 47% as a single layer and 60% when folded into a double layer. Face shields only blocked 2% of the cough aerosol, according to the guidance.

A Costco customer at the Manahawkin store in August was captured on TikTok video (CAUTION: profanity) telling a  cashier to "shut up and ring up my stuff."

William Commauf, 48, of Barnegat, was charged with terroristic threats, harassment and disorderly conduct.

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