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Retailers tighten COVID protocols for customers

Retailers are tightening up their mask requirements and social distancing measures going into the holiday season in a bid to counter an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Costco, starting Monday, will require everyone who enters their stores without exception to have a face covering.

Since May the wholesale retailer has allowed people with medical conditions including asthma and emphysema to enter stores without a mask. The new rule requires all members and staff to wear a face mask that covers their eyes and nose at all times. Face shields are required by those with medical conditions. The only exemption to the face covering rule starting Monday will be children under 2 years of age.

National retailers have indicated shoppers can expect to see a return of lines outside stores as COVID-19 cases surge at the same time holiday foot traffic in stores pick up pace.

San Joaquin County is currently in the red tier while the neighboring counties of Stanislaus, Sacramento, and Contra Costa have slipped back into the most restrictive tier — purple.

 Should there be 7 or more new cases of COVID-19 at a daily rate of 7 or more per 100,000 over an average of 14 days that would force San Joaquin County back into the purple that is the highest of four color-coded state restrictions for COVID-19 protocols given the coronavirus at that point is considered to be widespread. That would mean inside dining would again be banned.  It would also mean gyms and health clubs would have to reclose.

Slipping backwards would mean retail stores would have to operate at 25 percent capacity instead of the current 50 percent capacity.

Postings on the San Joaquin County COVID-19 dashboard on Thursday as 11:30 a.m. show 1,111 persons out of 776,000 San Joaquin County residents are currently positive with the virus although they are not necessarily sick. That is the number once you subtract the 21,613  people that health officials have determined to have recovered from the 3,224 cases since March

There have been 500 deaths.