Four elected officials representing Brooklyn are calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to indefinitely suspend the state’s plastic-bag ban, over fears that reusable bags are unsanitary and can worsen the coronavirus pandemic.
The ban prohibits plastic shopping bags other than the strong reusable type, with some exceptions, such as single-use produce bags. It also allows cities to impose a five-cent fee on paper bags. New York City has imposed that fee.
Enforcement of the plastic-bag ban, originally set to have taken effect March 1, has already been postponed until May 15, due to lawsuits.
But the officials – Councilmen Chaim Deutsch and Kalman Yeger, state Sen. Simcha Felder and Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein – note that reusable bags can be a hotbed of germs if they are not washed, and call on the governor to indefinitely suspend the ban on plastic bags and the cities’ fees on paper bags, as the coronavirus casualty toll soars further every day.
There have been over 7,100 cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 36 deaths.
“As we work to halt this pandemic and minimize the repercussions for all New Yorkers, it’s clear that the bag ban should be eliminated indefinitely,” said Felder.
“Researchers have been warning the public about the health risks associated with reusable bags for years, but their cautions fell on deaf ears,” said Deutsch. “Now, as we as a state are directly impacted by a fast-spreading virus, it’s finally time to take this seriously.”
The officials also calling for people to utilize disposable bags, or to frequently wash their reusable bags.