CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cuyahoga County intends to again delay enforcement of its ban on the use of plastic bags by many retailers, this time because of concerns related to the coronavirus crisis.
Enforcement had been delayed from Jan. 1 until July 1 to allow retailers more time to prepare, but County Council President Dan Brady told cleveland.com on Wednesday that he will again ask council members to delay enforcement of the ban, possibly to fall.
Brady attributed the latest delay to concerns that shoppers could spread the virus by bringing reusable bags to grocery stores and other retailers.
Council member Sunny Simon, who spearheaded the legislation imposing the ban, told cleveland.com that she would like the legislation that delays enforcement to include guidelines for the safe use of reusable bags.
Simon said the county might adopt guidelines used by Whole Foods stores, where customers can bring reusable bags, but must bag groceries themselves. Employees aren’t allowed to touch the bags, and counters are sanitized after customers remove their bags.
Acme Fresh Market, with locations in Parma and Summit County, is operating under a similar policy: Though Acme is discouraging the use of reusable bags, its stores are still allowing customers to use them as long as they bag groceries themselves.
Some other grocery stores, including Giant Eagle, Heinen’s and Dave’s Supermarkets, have halted the use of reusable bags in response to concerns about coronavirus.
Simon said she plans to talk to grocers about the changes.
Council approved the ban in 2019 to take effect Jan. 1, 2020. It covers plastic bags and paper bags that are not 100 percent recyclable or made from at least 40 percent of recycled material. Exemptions include bags for restaurant leftovers or carry-out orders, bags consumer bring with them, or bags for newspapers, dry-cleaning, meat, pet waste, prescriptions, or partially-consumed bottles of wine.
Enforcement is to be handlrf by the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs. First-time violators will be subject to a written warning. Second violations will carry a civil fine of up to $100 and subsequent violations will carry fines up to $500. Violations are defined as each day a retailer doesn’t comply with the ordinance.