TAMPA, Fla. - The fight to reduce the use of single-use plastics may be in jeopardy with some grocery chains banning reusable cloth bags out of fear they could be contributing to the spread of COVID-19.
"They can possibly carry germs and bacteria back and forth so if you have somebody in your house that's unknowingly infected; that bagger could end up having the germs and then transfer them to the next person," University of Washington professor Anne-Marie Gloster said.
The Midwestn grocery chain Hy-Vee has banned customers from bringing reusable cloth bags inside the store.
"Customers will no longer be allowed to bring in reusable bags until further notice since it is difficult to monitor their cleanliness," a Hy-Vee spokesperson said in a statement. "Because it is not always easy to know the sanitization procedures customers are taking at their homes to keep the bags clean."
FOX 13 reached out to Publix for comment, but have not yet heard back as of Sunday night.
"Stores are going to be using their own plastic bags because they know they're new and they don't have potential to spread the virus so it's really important to understand what the stores are doing and why they're doing it. They're really doing it for the safety and protection of their own customers," Florida Gulf Coast University director of physicians assistant pogram Robert Hawkes said.
So far, governors in Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire have either banned or issued strict guidelines asking shoppers to leave their reusable bags at home.
Not just bags, but single-use plastics from take-out restaurants are also a concern.
"Bring the food home and immediately put it in your own Tupperware or out on the plates you're going to use and then you dispose of those containers that way you're not cross-contaminating," Gloster said.