NEWTON, MA — The Massachusetts Department of Health reinstated the statewide plastic bag ban for the 139 cities and towns that had them this week. But in Newton, businesses will have until Sept. 1 to comply.
On March 25, Gov. Charlie Baker suspended the statewide ban, allowing businesses to offer any kind of bag — including single-use plastic — without a fee. Then, when word got out late Friday that the ban would likely begin again, business leaders from the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber of Commerce, one of the region's largest, raised concern on behalf of local merchants.
On the heels of the state's announcement, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said businesses should comply with the local ordinances that prohibit plastic bags, polystyrene containers and requires a 10 cent-minimum bag fee for customers who choose to purchase a paper or reusable bag from the store. But she said the city won't be enforcing it until September, to give retailers time.
"Recognizing that there was no advance notice of the statewide order rescission, the City of Newton will delay enforcement of its plastic bag and polystyrene ordinances until Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, to give retailers time to adjust to this change," she said Monday night in a statement. "
Chamber president Greg Reibman thanked the mayor for responding to their concerns quickly.
"Without the action, our merchants would not have had a chance to use up their stock of existing plastic bags, or a chance to stock back up on paper bags," he said in his newsletter to businesses.
Boston officials said they would give businesses until Sept. 30 before they begin enforcing.
The ruling from State Health Commissioner Monica Bharel also lifted an April order that reduced occupancy restrictions for grocery stores. Both orders were aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
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