ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Just weeks after the ban on plastic bags in Albuquerque started, officials suspended it because of the pandemic. However, now it looks like it could be reinstated soon. Grocery stores acknowledge it can be frustrating for customers if they forget their reusable bags but said the break from the plastic bag ban has actually helped.

The owner of the Mexico Lindo grocery store off-Broadway and Kathryn said they’ve been busy during the pandemic. “Business-wise, we went up,” said Fabian Moreno, owner of the Mexico Lindo. “Business has been up because we have groceries and people have to eat every day.”

At the start of the pandemic, the City of Albuquerque lifted the ban on single-use plastic bags in stores because of concerns about germs on reusable bags. The owner of Mexico Lindo said it was a relief because customers used to get frustrated if they forgot their reusable bags and plastic bags get customers in and out of the stores quicker.

“If they’re going to buy a lot of groceries, how are they going to carry them,” said Moreno. “And then sometimes we tell them we have reusable bags for ten cents, 50 cents or whatever, however much they are, they’ll start complaining.”

Plastic bags were banned before the pandemic as a way to be more environmentally friendly and cut down on litter along roads and open spaces. But now that things are getting back to normal, the ban on plastic bags could be reinstated soon.

“We want to end the stay so the plastic bag ordinance is back in effect,” said Sarita Nair with the mayor’s office. The mayor’s office told city councilors they want to give stores and restaurants enough time to prepare for the change. “Our preliminary thoughts were to give notice in June about having the ordinance go back into effect in August,” said Nair.

The owner of Mexico Lindo said transitioning back to reusable bags is doable, but hopes customers will remember to bring their own bags. “We’ll be ready if they want to ban them, we’ll be ready,” said Moreno.

There’s no specific date as to when the plastic bag ban will be reinstated. Councilor Diane Gibson said in the city council meeting she hopes it’s sooner than August. When the ban goes back into place, stores will be allowed to use paper bags, too.