Reusable shopping bags will be allowed again at New Hampshire grocery stores, after Gov. Chris Sununu lifted the state’s COVID-19 ban on reusable bags Monday.

The ban, one of the first like it in the country, had been in place since March. It stemmed from fears that bags brought from people’s homes could further the spread of the coronavirus.

Scientists say the bags are safe as long as people wash them between uses; that single-use plastics are just as susceptible to carrying the virus; and that face masks are a far more effective way of preventing new infections.

New Hampshire is the only New England state without a mask requirement.

In a tweet announcing the bag order was lifted, Gov. Sununu urged grocery shoppers to be courteous to workers by washing their bags. Most bags can be cleaned in a washing machine with hot water and detergent or with disinfecting cleaning spray.

The nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, which works on ocean plastic pollution among other issues, applauded Sununu's decision.

"Single-use products pose persistent threats to public health and the planet that will be with us long after the COVID-19 crisis," said Surfrider Regional Manager Melissa Gates. "Now that we know that the precautionary move early on to ban reusable bags in the COVID crisis is not needed, terminating the ban is the right thing to do."

Sununu's order, provided to media Monday but not immediately posted online, simply terminates the original ban and does not address reusable containers for bulk goods, which some stores have prohibited in recent months.

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