Cash and COVID-19: safe, but use common sense and take care

Cash and COVID-19?

The Canadian Association of Secured Transportation (CAST) says cash is no more dangerous than bank cards or mobile phones. 

CAST, an advocate for the interests of Canadian providers of secure transportation of valuables, issued their statement as many retailers across Canada continue to refuse to accept cash payments due to fears of transmitting COVID-19.

"As a representative of organizations that are deeply involved in ensuring and monitoring the delivery and utilization of cash every day across Canada, CAST recommends and endorses adherence to common-sense precautions by consumers and merchants when handling coins and currency. We also believe it is important for the public to be fully and accurately informed, and not misled by unfounded fears surrounding the use of cash compared to other payment methods," says Steven Meitin, CAST President.

CAST says cash is by far the most widely used form of payment and accounts for more than 85 per cent of transactions worldwide. 

"Based on the best available scientific literature, handling currency carries little risk of contracting COVID-19," says Meitin.

CAST points to statements from Health Canada and The World Health Organization indicating coronaviruses “are most commonly spread by respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze; close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; and, touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.  

Meitin says according to the WHO, "there is currently no evidence to confirm or disprove that COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through coins or banknotes."

He says the risk of contracting COVID-19 by handling currency is low especially when compared to the number of Canadians who depend on using currency every day. "We are not aware of any reliable scientific evidence indicating that practicing good hygiene, or safeguarding the public’s health, requires consumers and businesses to give up the convenience, security, or privacy protections that cash transactions offer."

Meitin points out that banknotes are legal tender in Canada, and many of the most vulnerable Canadians don't have access to credit and need to use cash.

The Bank of Canada has advocated for retailers to continue accepting cash.

The Bank for International Settlements studied the transmission of COVID-19 onto currency and found "the probability of COVID-19 transmission via banknotes is low when compared with other frequently-touched objects, such as credit card terminals or PIN pads."

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