Proposed Law Would Make It Illegal To Return Items Hoarded For Coronavirus

Covid-19 National emergency in Bloomington, US

If you rushed out to the store to hoard items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products, you might not be able to return them once life returns to normal. New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill that would make it illegal to return items you purchased to prepare for self-isolation due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers are worried that the coronavirus could live on the surfaces of items, and then start spreading once they are returned to the store.

"Following a quarantine or period of isolation, a consumer may attempt to return unused items purchased in bulk, which may contribute to the spread of COVID-19 if the items being returned are contaminated with the virus," lawmakers wrote in the proposed bill.

The ban on returned items includes toilet paper, cleaning products, dairy products, as well as meat and produce.

The first offense would result in a maximum fine of $10,000 and the second a maximum fine of $20,000.

The bill easily passed the Assembly by a vote of 49-4-12. It will now head to the Senate.

While New Jersey legislators cited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that cautioned the virus "may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces," the agency says that there is "no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food" and that there is "very low risk of spread from food products or packaging."

To keep up to date on the latest news about the coronavirus and to understand what you need to stay safe and healthy, check out the Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction podcast from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Photo: Getty Images

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