An alliance of the independent grocery and convenience store industries.

Department of Health

The Washington Department of Health is the main agency fighting COVID-19.  The Washington State Department of Health established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, or how the virus is spread, please call 1-800-525-0127. Phone lines are currently staffed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week. Please note that this call center can not access COVID-19 testing results. For testing inquiries or results, please contact your health care provider.

Can grocery clerks get COVID-19 from reusable shopping bags?

It would be very unlikely for store clerks to get infected with COVID-19 by contacting reusable shopping bags. According to the CDC, touching surfaces that may have the virus on it is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. We believe potential exposure to COVID-19 from handling consumer-provided bags is low, but have several recommendation to help address industry concerns:

  • Encourage customer self-bagging when reusable shopping bags are used.
  • Provide single use (paper or plastic, where appropriate) bags for clerks to use while bagging customer groceries. 
  • Provide alcohol-based hand antiseptic rubs (with at least 60% ethyl alcohol as the active ingredient) for clerks. 
  • Ensure all employees wash their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Remind employees to avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth to help slow the spread of germs.
Distributed by Joe Graham, Dept. of Health Food Safety 3/20/20

Washington Food Industry Association

P.O. Box 706

1415 Harrison Ave NW, Suite 101

Olympia, WA 98502

Tel: 360-753-5177


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