CHICAGO (CBS) — The city of Chicago will halt collection of its 7-cent tax on plastic and paper grocery bags at retail stores until the end of April, but that doesn’t mean shoppers will stop paying it.
The move by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office simply means groceries, pharmacies, and other retailers who are required to collect the tax won’t have to send the money to the city until April 30.
“As part of our efforts to provide economic relief for retailers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, last week the City extended the date for various tax remittances to April 30th, including the Checkout Bag tax,” Lightfoot’s office stated in an email. “With the health and safety of our grocery store employees and other essential workers among our highest priorities, we will continue ensuring that all new protocols and the latest restrictions are complied with in Chicago.”
Normally, the city collects that tax from retailers on the 15th of each month, but the mayor’s office said the March and April collections are being pushed back until April 30.
Meantime, Gov. JB Pritzker said grocery stores throughout the state will be rolling out several new “best practice” procedures in the coming days to further prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, including a temporary ban on reusable shopping bags. Other new measures include:
- Signs telling shoppers to allow for 6 feet of separation from other people;
- Continuous announcements of social distancing rules on their public address system;
- Setting up floor markers at checkout lines to designate 6 feet of separation;
- Encouraging shoppers to make cashless purchases so speed up checkout;
- Dedicating staff to help staff follow social distancing rules;
- Installing plastic shields at checkout lanes to provide a barrier between customers and cashiers and baggers;
- Encouraging online ordering, curbside checkout, and self-checkout lanes.
“To be clear, there’s nothing new that customers need to know before shopping, other than to be vigilant about their social distancing practices, as we’re asking stores to make their requirements as clear as possible. But it is up to each individual to follow our social distancing requirements,” Pritzker said. “I ask you to be courteous and be respectful in any interaction with the grocery store clerks and workers, always, but especially as they go to work every day when so many are staying home, and especially if they ask you to comply with one of these guidelines. Remember, they’re looking out for you as much as they are looking out for themselves or anyone else.”
Pritzker’s office already had asked groceries to set aside specific times during the week for seniors, who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, to shop without other customers in the stores.