Walsh Announces Temporary Approval of Plastic Bags at Boston Stores

Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Wednesday, March 25 issued a temporary Executive Order allowing plastic bag use in Boston for certain businesses during the public health emergency of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Under the Executive Order, the City of Boston has granted temporary exemptions to Boston’s plastic bag ordinance, which had restricted plastic bag use in the City of Boston. This measure will protect residents as they shop for essential needs. 

This temporary exemption will apply to all retail establishments that qualify as “Essential Businesses” under the Governor Baker’s Emergency Order announced Monday, March 23. Essential businesses will be allowed to use plastic bags, and will be exempt from the requirement that they charge customers a fee for checkout bags. 

“During this challenging time, we understand the retail establishments our residents rely on — like grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants — need added flexibility to best serve their customers,” said Mayor Walsh. “We are adjusting Boston’s plastic bag ordinance to give establishments and residents the help they need during this time.”

As part of their ongoing efforts to serve the public effectively during this public health crisis, grocery stores and other entities that sell or provide food, medicine, and other necessities, may require additional flexibility in providing checkout bags or in acquiring supplies of bags to use to facilitate carry out or checkout by patrons. This Executive Order went into effect on March 24, 2020, and will be in effect until the last day of the Public Health Emergency declared by the Boston Public Health Commission.

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