VICTORIA -- Save-On-Foods grocery stores across western Canada will ban the use of reusable bags as the global coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

Starting Friday, March 20, the grocery chain will temporarily suspend the use of environmentally friendly reusable bags and hand out plastic bags to customers. The plastic bags will be offered free of charge. 

Meanwhile, Save-On-Foods will also be suspending its acceptance of bottle returns. 

“Both our team members and customers have expressed concern about bottle returns and in using reusable bags,” said Save-On-Foods president, Darrell Jones. 

The company is making the move to help curb the transmission of germs from outside of the grocery store to produce, proteins and other products inside. 

Save-On-Foods has a total of 178 locations across Western Canada. 

Already, Starbucks and Tim Hortons locations across Canada have refused to fill reusable cups and mugs brought by customers. All patrons are currently receiving a paper cup and plastic lid.