A coalition of grocery store and bodega associations and two city councilmembers are demanding the state halt the incoming plastic bag ban for at least two months to educate both owners and consumers.

Critics say they haven’t been properly informed about the new law—which will ban retailers from handing out most plastic bags and place a five-cent fee on paper bags starting March 1st.

"13,000 bodegas in New York City are not prepared for this regulation," Councilmember Mark Gjonaj, chair of the small business committee, said at a City Hall rally Thursday, joined by Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez and a handful of bodega and supermarket associations. "We’re calling on the state that we have to educate folks—small businesses and consumers—before we start the heavy-handed approach of penalizing both small businesses and customers."

Under the new rules, SNAP and WIC recipients will be exempt from the paper bag fee, and plastic bags will still be provided for prescriptions, uncooked animal products, fresh produce and bulk items. The Department of Environmental Conservation says they won’t be imposing fines on business owners who violate the ban for another few months, and business owners will receive a warning first. The first violation would be $250 once enforcement begins.

The conversation around the plastic bag ban isn’t new. New York City proposed a five-cent fee on plastic and paper bags back in 2016, but the law was thwarted by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who instead designed a task force to develop a state-wide solution to plastic bag waste. Last April, Cuomo signed the statewide ban.

While business owners have had a year to prepare for the change, the lack of education has created confusion for both shop-goers and operators, critics say.

"We’re gonna have chaos, it’s going to be confusion and there’s going to be no winners," said Orlando Findlayter, a bishop at the New Hope Christian Fellowship, a Brooklyn Presbyterian church.

Nick D’Agostino, owner of D'Agostino’s and Gristedes Supermarkets, is worried his business could take a hit if shoppers choose to order groceries online rather than find their reusable bags and go to his stores.

"On some level, I don’t know if this is just another way to give Amazon more business," he told Gothamist. "I’m gonna lose a lot of shopping trips."

It takes three months for 14-cent handled paper bags to arrive, D’Agostino said. But he's worried that a possible paper bag shortage could force costs up.

At City Hall on Thursday, a counter-protester wearing a homemade sandwich board covered with plastic and reusable bags said he thinks there will be a rough patch, but consumers will get used to carrying their reusable bags.

"We can survive without plastic carry-out bags," said Eric Goldstein, the New York City environment director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. In New York City, residents use more than 10 billion single-use carryout bags every year and it costs the City more than $12 million annually to dispose of these bags, according to the New York City Department of Sanitation. Statewide, New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion single-use plastic bags.

The New York City Department of Sanitation will send a free reusable bag to those who take a zero-waste pledge. The DEC is also giving out more than 270,000 reusable bags with a focus on low- and moderate-income communities, and Cuomo announced a targeted educational campaign about the ban on Thursday.

In a statement to Gothamist, the DEC said they’re ready to help New Yorkers to make the switch to reusable bags and noted that communities across the country have similar bans.