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6 Things You May Never See at Costco Again

RIP, free samples.

If you've been to Costco since the coronavirus pandemic started, you've likely noticed a few things are different at the warehouse club. For one thing, there's often a line around the block just to get in! But just because things are changing doesn't mean you won't be able to head to Costco for things like toilet paper and the store's famous rotisserie chickens.

Still, Costco shoppers will have to get used to some major changes. The free samples, for example, might not be back, at least not anytime soon. Here are a few things you might not see at Costco in the near future, at least until things go back to normal. And for more food news, sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!

Free samples

food samples

Yes, the in-store samples are a great way to get a few snacks while you're shopping (and for the store to add more items to your cart). But they're not exactly the most sanitary, which is why Costco has suspended free samples during the pandemic. Having food preparation in-store is risky enough, and then there's the fact that people will have to take their masks off to enjoy the samples. The worst part, though, might be that many customers leave the sample cups or toothpicks in their carts, rather than putting them in the store's trash cans, thus exposing workers to potential bacteria when they have to pick the trash out.

Employees loading and unloading your cart

costco checkout aisles

At Costco, a front-end cashier's assistant will take the items out of your cart, put them on the grocery belt, and put them back into your cart on the other side of the register. But doing this is almost impossible while social distancing, not to mention the fact that the system adds another person touching every item into the equation. Don't be surprised if you have to load and unload your own items at Costco in the coming weeks.

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Membership cards on the grocery belt

costco membership card and receipt

Costco cashiers have to scan your membership card before they can ring you up. Many customers will leave their membership cards on the conveyer belt, either in the nook of a belt divider or on top of their items. To minimize touch, though, employees might scan your card while you hold it in front of them instead. That way, they don't have to touch the card, and your card won't be at risk from any bacteria on the belt and its dividers.

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People without masks

costco social distancing sign

All Costco shoppers are required to wear masks, and employees are wearing masks, too. Until there's a coronavirus vaccine, it's likely that wearing a mask while shopping is a requirement that's here to stay.


raw meat at costco with membership card
Andy Liu/Shutterstock

The impending meat shortage is no joke. Costco is limiting meat purchases to three meat items per customer, and those limits may not go away anytime soon. If the meat shortage continues, you might not even be able to buy three meat packages at the store if you wanted to.

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Groups of people

Costco wholesale shopping cart

While experts recommend shopping alone if you can, rather than with members of your household, some Costco stores are making this an official rule. In Puerto Rico and Kentucky, only one person can enter for each Costco membership card, so the days of family Costco outings may be over. And for more tips, steer clear of these 18 Worst Foods to Buy in Bulk at Costco.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Eat This, Not That!
Inspired by The New York Times best-selling book series, Eat This, Not That! is a brand that's comprised of an award-winning team of journalists and board-certified experts, doctors, nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers, and dietitians who work together to bring you accurate, timely, informative, and actionable content on food, nutrition, dieting, weight loss, health, wellness, and more. Read more about Eat This