MONCTON, N.B. -- Until Thursday, Melissa Miller was able to provide customers with plastic bags for those who didn't bring their own, but not anymore.

"Everybody needs to be a little bit patient," says Miller, who manages a Moncton market.

The switch to reusable bags was set to take effect July 1, but fears of the transmission of COVID-19 through reusable bags brought from people’s homes, pushed the start of the bag ban back by three months.

"I think in general it’s a great idea," Miller said. "Plastic has its uses, absolutely, but if we can reduce any amount of stuff that’s not recyclable we’re compostable, we are all better off."

Customers agree.

"It’s really hard to recycle all those plastic bags," said Barbara Gebuhr. "When you go to the ditches they’re just full of plastic bags, they blow into the trees, they’re everywhere."

Plastic bags won’t be disappearing all together. The bylaw allows them to be used for frozen foods, meat and chicken, and loose bulk items like fruit and vegetables.

"We asked for a few changes to what they initially proposed," says Jim Cormier of the Retail Council of Canada, which represents stores big and small across the region.

They have been working on the framework of the bylaw for a couple of years with the municipal councils of Riverview, Dieppe and Moncton.

"We also asked for delays to allow time for retailers to exhaust their supplies of single-use plastics," Cormier said. "Most of those are bought a year in advance."

The bylaw defines a reusable bag as having handles and is capable of being used at least 100 times.

That is if you remember to bring them with you.

"We forget them in the vehicles sometimes, we’ve got them it’s just a matter of remembering to take them with you," Betty Adshade says.

Violating the bylaw could result in a fine ranging from $140 to $2,100.