SAN FRANCISCO—The City of San Francisco is lifting local prohibitions on the use of reusable bags after the State of California rescinded this ban, citing growing evidence that reusable bags don’t transmit coronavirus easily. On Monday, June 22, California Governor Gavin Newsom passed an order to allow reusable bags again. His decision was based on the fact that although the ban came from a place of caution, the CDC has reported that there have been no documented cases or instances in which the virus has been transmitted to a person from a surface, such as reusable bags.
A statement from the CDC reads: “The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. While it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, aerosolized droplets are the only documented method of COVID-19 transmission to date.”
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, California issued a ban on customers bringing in reusable bags into grocery stores and other businesses out of precaution that they might carry the coronavirus, and contribute to the spread. Social distancing and face coverings remain the best methods of protection against airborne virus.
Potential exposure to COVID-19 from handling reusable grocery bags is believed to be low, but consumers have been advised to wash their hands after each use. A statement released by GreenPeace states that it remains important to protect the environment, and that “reusable” systems remain safe even amid the pandemic: “The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a discussion of how to ensure the safety of reusable systems in a public health crisis. Based on the best available science and guidance from public health professionals, it is clear that reusable systems can be used safely by employing basic hygiene.”