NEWBURYPORT -- Mayor Donna Holaday signed an order on Wednesday to temporarily ban the use of reusable shopping bags in supermarkets and retail stores to help prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.

The order, Holaday said, is intended to protect supermarket and shop employees from potentially coming in contact with the virus, which could live on bags that haven’t been washed in a while.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about this issue -- who washes the bags? They could be carrying the virus, and I think anything we can do to protect workers in supermarkets is important,” said Holaday.

Holaday noted that during the ban supermarkets will still offer the option of using paper bags and cardboard boxes to help carry groceries.

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