Mayor Walsh temporarily approves plastic bags at Boston stores
The Mayor's executive order to exempt all establishments from the bag ordinance will stay in place until September 30, assuming no major change in information or circumstances. This transition period will allow stores to use up any single-use plastic bags that they have purchased during the emergency. The five-cent per bag fee will also not be in effect.
On October 1, all provisions of the ordinance will come back into effect. This includes the elimination of most single-use plastic bags and the requirement for the five-cent fee. (Note: the ordinance still allows the ISD Commissioner to grant exemptions, but this is on a case-by-case basis with clear criteria.) Residents in Boston are now able to use reusable bags if they would like to.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today issued a temporary Executive Order allowing plastic bag use in Boston for certain businesses during the public health emergency of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Under the Executive Order, the City of Boston has granted temporary exemptions to Boston's plastic bag ordinance, which had restricted plastic bag use in the City of Boston. This measure will protect residents as they shop for essential needs.
This temporary exemption will apply to all retail establishments that qualify as "Essential Businesses" under the Governor Baker's Emergency Order announced Monday, March 23. Essential businesses will be allowed to use plastic bags, and will be exempt from the requirement that they charge customers a fee for checkout bags.
"During this challenging time, we understand the retail establishments our residents rely on -- like grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants -- need added flexibility to best serve their customers," said Mayor Walsh. "We are adjusting Boston's plastic bag ordinance to give establishments and residents the help they need during this time."
As part of their ongoing efforts to serve the public effectively during this public health crisis, grocery stores and other entities that sell or provide food, medicine, and other necessities, may require additional flexibility in providing checkout bags or in acquiring supplies of bags to use to facilitate carry out or checkout by patrons. This Executive Order went into effect on March 24, 2020, and will be in effect until the last day of the Public Health Emergency declared by the Boston Public Health Commission.
The Executive Order is available online.
Mayor Walsh has also launched new resources for small businesses in Boston, available through the Office of Economic Development. All resources have been created through the City's Office of Economic Development, and are available online on boston.gov/small-business or under the Local Resources "Economic Development Response" on boston.gov/coronavirus.