The Bow Street Market in Freeport doesn’t want shoppers to bring reusable bags to its store out of concerns the bags might contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

Instead, the neighborhood market will gladly place your groceries in a paper bag, the store says on its Facebook page.

“Do not bring your own reusable bags,” Bow Street Market said. “We will bag your groceries in paper totes and waive the mandatory 5-cent fee.”

Other stores and municipalities are following Bow Street Market’s example after Gov. Janet Mills last week signed emergency legislation that delayed the effective date of the statewide single-use plastic bag ban to Jan. 15, 2021, in response to the pandemic.

In June 2019, Mills signed a bill into law that made Maine the fourth state in the nation to embrace a ban on single-use plastic bags. The new law was scheduled to go into effect on April 22, which happens to be Earth Day.

On April 15, 2015, Portland became the first municipality in Maine to enact a 5-cent fee on disposable paper and plastic bags. Since Portland took that step, more than 20 other municipalities in Maine have enacted some type of ban on plastic bags or imposed a fee on their use.


But on Friday, Portland City Manager Jon Jennings issued an emergency proclamation that exempts stores from having to charge the five-cent fee for single-use carry out shopping bags in response to the coronavirus spread.  Jennings’ proclamation will remain in effect through April 30.

A new study by the National Institutes of Health showed that the virus can survive on surfaces for hours or even days, a danger to anyone who touches the surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.

“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,” Jennings said.

On Saturday, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu issued an emergency order requiring all grocers and retail stores to temporarily transition to the use of single use paper or plastic bags. Sununu’s order applies to grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and retail stores.

“With identified community transmission, 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.

















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