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Kristin Murphy, KSL, File

Coronavirus pandemic puts plastic bag bans to the test in Utah

By Graham Dudley, KSL.com | Posted - May 28, 2020 at 5:14 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Utah grocery stores in many ways — disrupted supply chains, reduced hours, product shortages and extensive employee precautions among them. But for Utah cities with plastic bag bans, getting groceries out the door safely without plastic bags has been added to the list.

The ban had not yet gone into effect in Logan when the pandemic struck Utah. It was originally scheduled to begin on April 22 of this year, but according to reporting from The Herald Journal and the Associated Press, the coronavirus has put those plans on hold.

"During the middle of a pandemic, when we are just now trying to figure out how to help businesses to stay in business, it is not the time to have that as something we’re trying to bring to them also," Logan Mayor Holly Daines told The Herald Journal. "There will be an appropriate time later on. Not right now."

Complicating matters, some Utah stores have temporarily banned the use of reusable shopping bags during the pandemic for fear they could help spread the coronavirus.

Two grocery stores in Park City and Moab, the Utah cities with active bans on single-use plastic bags, told KSL.com they are still allowing shoppers to bring reusable bags. But they have created new precautions around them, like having such shoppers bag their own groceries, they said.

Paper bags are, of course, still allowed, but Park City Environmental Sustainability Manager Luke Cartin said one store told the city it "could experience a paper bag shortage."

"However," Cartin said in an email, "they were able to address it with their supplier."

Cartin said Park City "has not received complaints from residents or businesses at this time about plastic bag use."

"Our grocery stores have worked diligently through this pandemic. They also should be commended for responding to the plastic bag ordinance that was passed a few years ago when our community asked the City Council to ban plastic bags. These businesses did a great job in adjusting their operations and keeping the city informed of potential issues."

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