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COVID-19 Prompts Postponement Of Cuyahoga County Plastic Bag Fines

Cuyahoga County Council voted to ban plastic bags in May 2019, but now the county won't collect fines until January 2021. [Pavel Kubarkov / Shutterstock]
Cuyahoga County Council voted to ban plastic bags in May 2019, but now the county won't collect fines until January 2021. [

Cuyahoga County plans to postpone its plastic bag ban, citing the uncertainty businesses are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ban was set to go into effect July 1 this year. Now County Executive Armond Budish’s administration is asking council to move the enforcement date to Jan. 1, 2021.

Democratic Councilwoman Sunny Simon, who led the push for the ban, released a statement Monday in support of the postponement.

“The delay of this ban is not to downplay the importance of eliminating plastic bags and the positive impact that will have on our community, but rather to address current anxieties and relieve concerns some are having during this pandemic,” Simon said. “Right now, moving the enforcement date to January 1 is in the best interest of our businesses and our residents.”

Giant Eagle and other Northeast Ohio grocers have discouraged customers from bringing reusable bags into stores during the pandemic, a move aimed at limiting contact between customers and employees. Even farmers’ markets that have continued to operate under coronavirus restrictions are asking shoppers to leave reusable bags at home for now.

Under the ban, businesses will receive a warning after their first infraction, a $100 fine for the second violation and $500 fines after that. The county council’s Democratic majority passed the measure in May 2019.

This is the second time the county has delayed the collection of plastic bag fines. Enforcement originally was set to begin at the start of 2020, but the county later allowed for a six-month grace period.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.