The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors today voted to temporarily suspend the county’s reusable bags ordinance that requires retailers to charge at least 25 cents for paper or reusable bags provided to customers.
In 2012, the County adopted a ordinance prohibiting retail establishments from providing reusable or recycled paper bags to customers at point of sale without charging them a minimum fee per bag, which is currently 25 cents. Subsequently, all cities and towns in the county with the exception of Woodside, Hillsborough and Atherton adopted analogous provisions.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, shoppers aren’t given the option to bring their own bag to shop for items for health reasons. Despite that, “retail establishments countywide are still required to charge, and may still be charging, customers a minimum of 25 cents,” the county states. Anecdotally, county officials have heard some retailers are not presently charging for shopping bags. The county felt the charge was unfair, particularly amid a difficult economic time.
“Many county residents have experienced sudden and substantial income loss due to business and school closures, layoffs or reductions in work hours and extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses, making it extremely burdensome for them to pay any additional living expenses, however small,” the county said.
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