In response to the coronavirus outbreak, City Manager Jon Jennings is suspending a Portland ordinance that requires some retailers to charge customers for each single-use plastic bag.

And at least one supermarket is suspending its online ordering and curbside grocery pick-up so workers can focus on stocking shelves.

Portland’s plastic bag ordinance, enacted in 2015, was designed to encourage people to switch to reusable bags.

But the city is discouraging people from taking reusable bags into grocery stores out of fear that it may spread coronavirus.

“According to current research and understanding, COVID-19 can survive on various surfaces for hours and in some cases days,” City Hall Communications Director Jessica Grondin said in a news release. “Therefore, the city is encouraging shoppers to not use their reusable bags during this time and asks that stores make single-use bags readily available.”

The emergency proclamation waiving the 5-cent per bag fee is in effect until April 30.

Meanwhile, Hannaford is suspending its online ordering and curbside pickup program amid the outbreak.

In an email to customers, the company said it is suspending its Hannaford To Go program through the end of March because workers are having trouble keeping shelves stock amid rising demand.

“Customer demand for products in our stores has created unprecedented challenges for product availability,” the company said. “We are making difficult choices like this so that all available associates can focus on filling store shelves as quickly as possible.”

The company said it would periodically review its decision with an eye toward reinstating the service as soon as possible.

As of Friday afternoon, grocery delivery programs at Shaw’s and Whole Foods Market appeared to be operating as usual, according to those companies’ websites. And the Freeport-based Bow Street Market’s online grocery program seemed to still be in operation, though the company warned that items may be limited or out of stock, according to its website.


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