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Mass. Department of Public Health lifts ban on reusable bags

A worker packed groceries into a customer's reusable bag.Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty

The Department of Public Health Friday lifted a statewide ban on the use of reusable bags at grocery stores -- ending an order imposed early in the coronavirus pandemic as a public health measure.

On March 25, the state health department ordered retailers to ban reusable bags as part of efforts to slow the coronavirus’s spread, after several communities, including Cambridge, made the move.

The state measure was imposed out of concern that reusable bags could help move the virus around and increase the chance of new infections.

Dr. Monica Bharel, the state commissioner of public health, rescinded that ban on July 10, according to a copy of her decision posted to the state website. She also rescinded a separate order from April that included occupancy limitations for grocery stores.


The state decision in March froze bans on single-use plastic bags in 139 cities and towns, according to MASSPIRG, which praised the end of the emergency measure.

“This is a home run -- good for the environment, for public health, for reducing waste, and for protecting both workers and shoppers,” said Janet Domenitz, the group’s executive director, in a statement.

John Hilliard can be reached at