Group wants temporary lift on Albuquerque’s plastic bag ban amid coronavirus concerns

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As people in Albuquerque head to grocery stores to get what they need as they spend more time at home, some workers at those stores want the city to lift its plastic bag ban.

In response to the coronavirus concerns, people are encouraged to stay at home and only leave when it’s necessary, like going to the grocery store. The New Mexico Grocers Association wants stores and shoppers to take more precautions.

“We have distance for the cashier but I don’t believe its six feet all the time,” said NM Grocers Association board member Dan Smiel. The Association is urging shoppers to think twice before using the self-checkout lines. “That’s an issue no one is really looking at, is that every customer coming in using the self-checkouts and nobody is cleaning up after every transaction,” said Smiel.

KRQE News 13 was told some mom and pop stores are even considering putting up plexiglass as an extra barrier. But most of all, the Association is hoping Albuquerque will go back to the old days where shoppers could use these now-forbidden plastic bags at the checkout counter again.

“We would like to go back to the plastic bags we used to use just so they can be disposable just until the virus is over,” said Smiel. “Just during this time if we could have this lifted we don’t have as much contact going back and forth with the cloth bags being reused.”

In January, the City banned plastic bags at stores. Since then, the City has asked locals to bring their own reusable bags. The Association said temporarily lifting the ban could help protect shoppers and employees from germs.

But don’t expect a change in the rules. The City said there’s no evidence reusable bags transmit the coronavirus. Although the City said people should not worry about reusable bags, they recommend cleaning those bags after each use.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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