San Francisco Bans Reusable Bags, Reverses Plastic Bag Ban in Coronavirus Fight
San Francisco is banning reusable shopping bags and reversing its ban on plastic bags to prevent outside germs from entering grocery stores as the coronavirus pandemic affects cities around the country, according to an article in The Hill.
Prohibiting the use of reusable bags during these circumstances (and reversing policies banning or taxing single-use plastic and paper bags) makes sense, which is why many private companies have already taken the initiative to ban them in their stores. At this time, it doesn’t appear that reusable bags are so much a threat to other shoppers who maintain social distancing, but they could threaten the health of people who work at the checkout counter at grocery stores who have physical contact with the bag. If the bag is contaminated and touched by an employee, the employee could potentially spread the illness to others.
Recent studies have found that viruses like COVID-19 can last from three to nine days on plastic surfaces, and it is important to remember that these studies did not assess the lifespan of the virus on cloth or other fabric used in bags so we don’t know how long the virus could survive on them. Some groups have used these studies as evidence that plastic bags could be worse for spreading the virus, but this ignores the fact that the threat of spreading doesn’t necessarily depend upon what the bag is made of, but rather, where the bag has been.
In this instance, single-use bags are less likely to have been in contact with the virus because they haven’t been used before. In contrast, reusable bags have a higher probability of having been in contact with the virus because they have been out and about in the world, and if they are not properly sanitized, they could potentially act as a means of transporting the virus.
The City of San Francisco has done the right thing to limit the use of reusable bags and more importantly, reverse course on their bans of plastic bags. The COVID-19 virus should act as a wake-up call for the general population that many of the policies pushed by so-called environmentalist are actually making the physical environment less safe for people.
Will Minneapolis suspend it’s five cent fee on single-use bags? Time will tell.