(NEXSTAR) – Plans to eliminate “senior hours” at Costco are a no-go. The pandemic-era policy, originally announced in March 2020 and scheduled to expire next week, will instead remain in effect at Costco locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. After July 26, however, the stores’ special operating hours will be limited to Tuesdays and Thursdays, rather than Monday through Friday.

Story continues below

Earlier this month, Costco had announced that special operating hours would be scheduled to expire altogether as of July 26. “Instead of discontinuing, we’ll maintain hours for seniors Tuesdays and Thursdays, until further notice,” said Richard Galanti, Costco’s chief financial officer, in a statement to USA Today.

Until July 26, Costco members over age 60 — or those with disabilities or who are immunocompromised — can take advantage of special operating hours between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. at most locations (hours vary at some California and Hawaii warehouses). After July 26, customers can visit during special operating hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays only between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.

Costco’s decision to maintain its special operating hours comes amid mounting worries over increasing cases of COVID-19, especially among the unvaccinated population.

U.S. cases of COVID-19 last week increased by 17,000 nationwide over a 14-day period for the first time since late fall, and an increase in deaths historically follows a spike in illness. Much of the worsening problem is being driven by the delta variant first identified in India, which has since hit the United Kingdom and other countries, said Murthy.

“I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“And while, if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately, that is not true if you are not vaccinated,” Murthy said.

Earlier this year in response to cases of COVID-19 dropping across the nation, Costco rescinded its blanket mask policy in alignment with current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, Costco only requires masks of customers in areas with applicable restrictions from state or local jurisdictions.

Costco’s current COVID-19 policies and coronavirus response measures can be found on the company’s website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.