Baker bans reusable grocery bags, imposes new guidelines amid coronavirus pandemic

BOSTON (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday announced a ban on reusable shopping bags in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in Massachusetts.

RELATED: All Bay State schools will remain closed through end of April, Baker says

A new order that Baker signed states, “Grocery store and pharmacy employees shall not perform bagging of retail products if reusable checkout bags are used and customers at grocery stores and pharmacies shall not use reusable checkout bags until further notice.”

Under the order, grocery stores, pharmacies, food banks, and emergency food programs will no longer be prohibited from using single-use plastic bags.

Stores will not be allowed to charge customers for recyclable paper bags, compostable plastic bags or single-use plastic bags.

Pharmacies and stores must also provide at least one hour of shopping each day that’s dedicated to adults over the age of 60, in addition to offering an array of sanitation options. Appropriate social distancing policies must be enforced.

The order will remain in effect until Baker terminates the state of emergency.

Additionally, all schools and childcare programs across the Commonwealth will remain closed through the end of April due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday.

Baker issued an emergency order extending the closure of all public and private schools, and all non-emergency childcare programs until May 4 in an effort to prevent the further spread of the virus.

“This will allow school districts to provide the best possible opportunities for remote learning to all students,” Baker said at a news conference at the State House.

Baker explained that the extension will allow school administrators and educators additional planning time to ensure students can complete course requirements, as well as provide teachers with time to expand remote learning opportunities.

There are now 1,838 confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, up from 1,159 cases on Tuesday, health officials announced Wednesday. Fifteen deaths have been reported.

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