Updated: Shoppers, state says you can bring those bags from home

  • Hannaford grocery store on New Athol Road between Athol and Orange. Its manager says the state’s ruling on bags “won’t be a big deal” for the store. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Hannaford grocery store on New Athol Road between Athol and Orange. Its manager says the state’s ruling on bags “won’t be a big deal” for the store. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Amy Faut of Greenfield bags her own groceries in her reusable bags at Fosters in Greenfield Tuesday. Chris Wiles is checking the items she purchased. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A customer has his groceries bagged in plastic by Foster Employees Nick Bresciano and Joel Peabody in Greenfield Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2020 6:18:52 PM
Modified: 7/23/2020 6:18:50 PM

The state’s ban to remove reusable bags from use in grocery stores during the pandemic has been lifted, so cities and towns that had single-use plastic bag bans can reinstate them.

The state had banned the use of reusable bags — often a tote made of canvas, natural fibers, woven synthetics or other materials — to reduce COVID-19 exposure and infections to staff and employees, and because of that, allowed cities and towns with bans on single-use bags to return to using them temporarily.

Hannaford Supermarket Athol/Orange Store Manager Joe Goody said the store plans to deplete its supply of single-use plastic bags by the deadline of Aug. 17. The Town of Athol has a single-use plastic bag ban.

“This won’t be a big deal for us,” said Goody.

He said the store has gone back to allowing customers to use reusable bags, and the supermarket does not charge for paper bags.

Jonathan Steiner, manager of Food City on Avenue A in Turners Falls, said the town doesn’t have a single-use plastic bag ban, so it too will conduct business as usual.

“We are allowing people to use reusable bags now, but they need to be clean,” he said. “We’ve had people try to use pillowcases or nets and that can’t happen now. We need to keep everyone safe as the pandemic continues.”

Steiner said though people can use their reusable bags, and the store once sold them to people who wanted one or forgot theirs, they don’t have any to sell because they are so difficult to find at this point.

Greenfield’s ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect Jan. 16, and was then suspended by the state on March 25. The city will allow businesses that have been using single-use plastic bags until Aug. 17 to use them. After that date, if a business still has bags, it can contact the Department of Health to apply for a waiver until they are gone (413-772-1404).

That means supermarkets like Foster’s, Stop & Shop and Big Y have returned to using paper bags and allowing reusable bags, as they had been doing before the pandemic. Green Fields Market has not used single-use plastic bags, before or during the pandemic. It has always used paper bags or allowed shoppers to bring reusable bags from home.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.

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