On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order suspending California’s 10-cent charge for grocery store bags.
Back in 2016, California legislated incentives for shoppers to bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and mandated that stores charge shoppers 10 cents for every bag they hand out to non-bag-carrying customers. That law was temporarily lifted Thursday, when (per the Associated Press), Governor Gavin Newsom signed an order that suspends those charges for 60 days.
(Side note: San Francisco’s bag ban and fees, which predated California’s by nearly a decade and are set to increase to 25 cents per bag this July, are set locally — and so far, there hasn’t been word from City Hall that shoppers in SF will get a break on that cost.)
Newsom said that the order was intended to “minimize the risk of exposure for workers performing essential activities,” and while there’s little argument that everything that can be done to protect grocery store workers, should be, there’s little evidence to support — or exonerate — reusable bags as a potential coronavirus threat. However, as soon as counties like those in the Bay Area officially banned the use of reusable bags, environmentalists claimed that the nation’s plastic bag lobby was hustling to exploit fears to bring the disposable receptacles back to stores.
It’s up to you if you believe reusable bags are an issue worth fighting over these days: As with disposable coffee cups (or, oh god, the bottles and bottles that used to hold hand sanitizer that will end up in landfills or the ocean), the long-term environmental impact of single-use bags has been eclipsed by the nearer-term and very real issue that people who work at grocery stores are getting sick. Just this week, the Marin Independent Journal reported that an unknown number of staffers at a Whole Foods in Mill Valley tested positive for COVID-19, and in Santa Cruz County, the Aptos Village Way branch of New Leaf Community Markets has closed after it was named as the site of a “cluster” of infections.
And in other news...
- Delivery drivers for SF-based Uber Eats have allegedly been violating booze delivery laws. [Washington Post]
- A plan to build a vineyard on a city-owned hill in San Jose has died on the vine. [East Bay Times]
- Today in restaurant vandalism and break-ins: a man who was caught on video allegedly vandalized eight businesses in San Jose and Milpitas [NBC Bay Area], including multiple locations of Lee’s Sandwiches [KRON 4]. And in San Francisco, thieves broke into Fillmore Street’s Miyako Old Fashion Ice Cream and stole about $4,000 worth of cigarettes, candy, and soda pop. [ABC 7]
- Laid-off workers at Boba Guys, which re-opened its Hayes Valley location this week, are “not comfortable coming back.” as they are fearful that returning to the front lines might endanger their health or the health of those close to them. [SF Gate]
- SF-based grocery delivery service Instacart has launched in-app sick tests for its workers [CNet] and is “hiring” (but not hiring-hiring, as the company insists that they’re not employees) 250,000 more shoppers. [TechCrunch]
- For restaurants, SF-based crowdfunding app GoFundMe isn’t enough of a fix to help them survive. [Eater]
- Chris Hastings, the co-owner of popular SF spots Casements Bar, WesBurger, and The Lookout says he’s applied for 22 loans to support his business, and “can probably last another month before I’m forced to declare bankruptcy.” [Hoodline]