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San Francisco, one of the cities hardest-hit by the coronavirus, banned reusable shopping bags Wednesday in a set of beefed-up social distancing protocols as part of the city's extension of its stay-at-home order, meant to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, until May 3.
The reusable bag ban is just one of many measures businesses are required to take to keep those performing "essential activities" as safe as possible from the coronavirus, which has sickened at least 9,855 people in California and killed at least 215.
Under the order, stores are not allowed to let "customers bring their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items from home" when they shop at or patronize a business.
"I can't reiterate enough how important it is for all of us to continue to comply, for all of us to continue to be good citizens, to cooperate," San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Wednesday as she announced the extended stay-at-home order.
Other required protocols include allowing no less than 6 feet between where employees are working, providing hand sanitizer to employees, limiting the number of customers in a building at once so that they can maintain social distance and not putting out items such as cups, lids or bulk food for customers to get themselves.
San Francisco was the first city in the United States to ban the use of plastic shopping bags in 2007, according to a story by SFgate.com at the time. Customers will presumably still be able to use paper bags at San Francisco grocery stores.
A release posted by the San Francisco government explaining changes from the city's previous stay-at-home order lists several other differences under the new one. These changes include that social distancing requirements are mandatory rather than recommended, using "shared recreational facilities like golf courses, tennis courts, basketball courts" and sports with shared equipment being played by people who live in different residences are prohibited and all construction that doesn't immediately affect safety or housing is put on hold.
The release notes that the order "is a legally enforceable order issued under California law" and that violators could face fines or jail time for flouting it.
Breed also emphasized that while people are staying apart during the stay-at-home order, it is important to reach out to others who may be struggling during the new reality which has hit not just San Francisco but much of the U.S.
"We know that it's not just about the physical health and what we need to do to combat the coronavirus," Breed said. "We also understand that as human beings there's an emotional toll that this will take on so many of us, so it's so important that we continue to uplift one another and be there for one another as much as we possibly can."