CHINO HILLS (CBSLA) — Costco is restricting the purchase of essential items and prohibiting returns to ease panic buying amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

 A sign outside a Chino Hills Costco alerts shoppers that they are out of 13 essential hygiene and food items.(credit: CBSLA)

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For the past week, it has been hard to find items like water and toilet paper at any store across Southern California. That’s why the company is cracking down on panic buying amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While shopping carts are still stacked high at Costco stores across the Southland, customers say buying in bulk during the COVID-19 outbreak is starting to run a bit smoother.

“This was my second time coming within the last few hours,” said customer Sheryl Caline, adding that she came back to stock up for her family. “I had to call my sister, see what she needed.”

In Montclair, they’re using pallets, traffic cones, and construction netting to line people up outside and control the crowds inside the store.

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Costco stores are also limiting the amount of essential items customers can purchase and prohibiting the return of recently hoarded items, including toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizing wipes, water, rice, and Lysol.

“They shouldn’t take returns!” Caline said. “[Those customers] overbought.”

Robert and Tina Kinder, two more Costco customers, said they feel like stricter rules earlier on would have significantly eased the transition into this pandemic.

“It kinda puts them in their place,” Tina said of the new rules. “Like, you can’t be doing that! Taking advantage of people during a national crisis.”

They say that all will work out if we look out for one another and respect the new rules, like the stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday, during this uncertain time.

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“I think it’s just important to do family time right now. stay home,” Robert said.