Some States Stall Plastic Bag Bans During Coronavirus Outbreak

The policy changes follow the release of a study that found that coronavirus can live for days on some surfaces.

The policy changes follow the release of a study that found that coronavirus can live for days on some surfaces. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Lawmakers and some store chains are temporarily banning reusable bags amid fears that their usage could help spread coronavirus.

Some states and grocery stores have moved to temporarily ban reusable bags amid fears that their use could unintentionally contribute to the spread of coronavirus.

In Maine, lawmakers halted the implementation of a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags until 2021, while officials in New York said they would not begin enforcing a planned moratorium on plastic bags until at least May. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu halted the use of reusable bags in his state via an emergency health order, which he said was necessary due to confirmed community transmission of the virus in New Hampshire.

“It is important that shoppers keep their reusable bags at home given the potential risk to baggers, grocers and customers,” Sununu said in a statement. “This emergency order directs all grocers and retail stores in the state to temporarily transition to only use new paper or plastic grocery bags provided by stores as soon as feasibly possible.”

In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker banned reusable bags and lifted local bans on disposable bags, saying that stores and pharmacies would no longer be allowed to charge fees for paper or plastic bags at checkout lines. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said he would lift his state’s plastic-bag tax, but was not considering a ban on reusable bags.

Across the country, stores have taken similar actions. Hy-Vee, a Midwestern supermarket chain, said it would ban reusable bags in its stores “until further notice.” Meijer, a Michigan-based superstore, asked customers to temporarily refrain from bringing reusable bags into stores, while Target announced that it would continue to allow customers to use their own bags but would require those who do to bag their own orders.

The policy shifts come after the release of a study that found that Covid-19 can survive for up to three days on various surfaces if left undisturbed. But the virus can be easily destroyed with soap and water, meaning regular washing of reusable cloth bags should be enough to eliminate the risk.

The widespread bans, then, seem less about the science of virus transmission and more about the comfort of extra precautions, said Brian Castrucci, president and CEO of the public health-focused de Beaumont Foundation.

“The science is dubious, but people are afraid,” he said. “This is really about action, and wanting to do something to bring some level of control and normalcy back to your world. I don’t think it hurts anybody, and I think that should be our measure right now. If it doesn’t hurt anybody, and it makes you feel better, then don’t use those bags."

OTHER STORIES on Route Fifty:

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.
FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Budgeting for Climate: The City of Pittsburgh Repurposes Resources for a Sustainable Future
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
New Parking Plaza Adds Capacity & Embraces Sustainability at San Diego Airport
San Diego, CA, USA
Strategic Energy Plan & Energy Efficiency Projects Help Manage San Diego Airport Energy Resources
San Diego, CA, USA

NEXT STORY: Local Government's Still Open—Remotely

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.