An effort that began in 2015 to ban plastic checkout bags in Gloucester was finally approved at a public hearing this month, to take effect in January 2019. Businesses that violate the rules will receive a $50 fine for a first-time offense, and that amount would rise for additional offenses. “I’m overjoyed,” said Greg Verga, who teamed with City Councilor Melissa Cox to introduce the ban when he was on the council. “The main argument against this for two years is that it would be a hardship for the elderly. Come on — these are people that lived through World War II.”David Rattigan can be reached at email@example.com.