Grocery stores are struggling to keep employees and customers safe during the current health crisis. New policies have been rolled out over the past several weeks in an attempt to keep the novel coronavirus from spreading. In some states, masks must be worn by customers before they can enter a store. For store employees, personal protective gear like face masks and gloves are being supplied and plastic barriers have been erected to keep cashiers and others safe.
Stores are also beginning to limit the number of customers allowed inside at a time to avoid crowding. Shopper limits coupled with social distancing guidelines have resulted in long lines to get into stores. Costco recently updated its customer policy to only allow two shoppers per membership in the store at a time. While this policy might seem like common sense, many customers and especially single parents are pushing back.
Costco changed its policy on April 1 to only allow two grocery shoppers per membership amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“This change is for your safety and the safety of our employees and other members, and to further assist with our social distancing efforts. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding,” an update on Costco’s website reads.
The wholesale store stresses that the change to its policy is only temporary until the threat of the health crisis subsides. The website also, oddly, stipulates that stores in Kentucky and Puerto Rico will only allow one shopper per membership. Why? The store offers no explanation on its website.
The wholesale grocery store has also made changes to its hours and scheduled times for seniors to safely shop.
Costco stores have also changed the hours its stores are open to the public. Most stores now close at 6:30 PM. Further, the brand has also set aside time for seniors during senior shopping hours which are established for members over the age of 60 to shop on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8-9:00 AM.
While most of these changes have been welcomed by its customers, the policy limiting the number of shoppers per membership is angering many.
The policy is seen by some of its customers as unfair and shortsighted.
Parenting during the health crisis has presented a multitude of additional difficulties. Caring for children and trying to teach them while schools are out has become a 24/7 job with no relief from grandparents and other caretakers.
For single parents with more than one child who have no childcare options (because there aren’t any anymore), they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Grocery shopping right now is already a herculean task. It involves extensive meal planning and then getting suited up to try and be as safe and efficient as possible. With multiple kids, the new shopper limit policy is yet another obstacle that makes getting groceries even more difficult.
Ari ElToro, a single mom from Texas, was recently turned away from a Costco store because she showed up with her children.
Over the weekend, ElToro recorded a video and posted it to her Facebook page that voiced her frustration over the policy.
“They won’t let me in Costco with my children,” she captioned the video.
The video shows an angry ElToro in the entrance to the store waiting to speak with a manager. Her oldest child can also be seen holding her youngest in a carrier.
“[I’m] aggravated, to say the least,” she said as she spots other parents with kids being turned away.
A manager from Costco tried to remedy the situation.
ElToro is finally greeted by a manager for the store who explains that the new policy has been put in place “for your safety and my safety.”
“But I don’t have anyone to watch my kids,” ElToro countered. “I can’t hire a babysitter, because [of] social distancing, I can’t have someone come into my house because of social distancing, like I literally can’t do anything.”
The manager offers to have a store employee do ElToro’s shopping for her, but ElToro declines the offer because the store’s items change frequently.
“This is ridiculous that I, as a single mom, am not able to go grocery shopping, nor am I able to get a babysitter,” ElToro says before storming out of the store.
ElToro took her anger to the parking lot.
“This is our country! Your rights are being [taken] from you!” ElToro screamed to other customers in the parking lot. “Everyone! All of your [expletive] rights are being stripped! Do something!”
Then, ElToro proceeded to rant about the government, social distancing policies in general, and then threatened to start a protest at the Costo in Lubbock, Texas.
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Online, people were sympathetic to ElToro but felt she could have handled the situation better.
Many people were also upset by the rigidity of the new policy. It doesn’t seem to take into consideration the limitations single parents are operating within at the moment. However, launching into an expletive-filled rant in a parking lot, in front of her kids was not the most productive exercise.
“Not winning any points by swearing in front of your kids constantly!” one person wrote.
“I agree with you … but swearing in front of your kids is a little ridiculous,” another person added. “Yell, scream, be angry … but avoid swearing in front of your littles because … maturity. You are 100% right to be angry!”
The video was seen and shared by thousands on Facebook.
ElToro’s video was shared and seen by many Facebook users including a local business owner. According to ElToro, the person called the store and threatened to pull their business membership. The store then made an exception for ElToro and her kids to come inside and shop.
Costco has yet to respond to any requests for comment about the situation. It’s likely that they learned that ElToro was threatening a protest at the store which would have caused more people to gather and thus more hospitable conditions for the coronavirus to spread. Whatever the reason for allowing ElToro into the store, we’re glad she was able to get the Costco groceries.
While the policy was established with good intentions, it does present problems for single parents and others who might be in similar situations. We hope Costco continues to listen to the individual needs of its customers and evaluates them on a case-by-case basis.
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