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Update: Bank of Canada asks retailers to continue accepting cash

During this time of heightened public health measures intended to limit the transmission of COVID-19, some consumers and businesses are choosing not to use cash to limit potential exposure. The Bank recognizes that these measures are being taken with the safety and well-being of both staff and consumers in mind.

Cash acceptance

We encourage Canadians to use the method of payment that they are the most comfortable with. However, the Bank strongly advocates that retailers continue to accept cash to ensure Canadians have access to the goods and services they need. Refusing cash purchases outright will put an undue burden on those who depend on cash and have limited payment options.

“There are many individuals who, for a variety of reasons, do not have access to credit or debit cards and must pay with coins and bills. We know that SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) can stick to surfaces for a few hours to a few days, and this may include hard currency,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician and scientist with the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. “Still, we can find ways to ensure that all Canadians have access to essential goods and services, even if they are using cash. Risk can be mitigated in retail settings using a variety of methods, including ensuring access to hand hygiene for all employees.”

Safe handling

As provinces begin to ease restrictions and retail businesses start to reopen, it’s important to keep in mind that the risks posed from handling cash are no greater than those posed by touching other common surfaces like doorknobs, kitchen counters and handrails.

Tips for Canadians handling cash

Canadians handling cash should follow the public health guidelines on COVID-19 and wash their hands often, as they would do for other activities.

For individuals who want to take additional safety precautions, it is possible to clean polymer bank notes with a bit of soap and water since they are resistant to moisture.

  • Do not use disinfecting wipes or other products containing substances like bleach or ethanol (rubbing alcohol) to disinfect bank notes. Using such products could damage notes and may make them unrecognizable as legitimate money.
  • Do not wash older paper notes; unlike polymer notes, paper notes are not resistant to moisture.

Access to cash

The Bank is working with financial institutions to ensure that there is no disruption to the cash supply during this exceptional time so Canadians can continue to have access to cash when they need it.

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