Michigan retailers no longer accepting bottle returns during coronavirus pandemic

Michigan retailers aren't accepting empty containers under the bottle return law during the coronavirus pandemic.
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LANSING (WJRT) (3/23/2020) - Many Michigan retailers have stopped accepting bottle returns during the coronavirus pandemic.

That means residents won't be able to collect their 10-cent returns until after the pandemic is over, according to industry groups representing the retail and liquor industries in Michigan.

Based on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's three-week stay at home order that takes effect Tuesday, retailers will no longer take empty beverage containers.

The change is meant to protect employees who have to handle the empty bottles and their families, according to the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, Midwest Independent Retailers Association and Michigan Retailers Association.

COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, can live on surfaces like plastic and metal for several days, the groups said in a joint statement. Employees could be exposed to the virus when they handle empty containers.

The bottle return law covers beer, wine and carbonated sodas. The groups say retailers in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont also have stopped accepting bottle returns.

Grocery stores are allowed to remain open under Whitmer's order because they provide a critical service of feeding residents.