COVID-19

The risk of transmission of the virus by cash (notes and coins) is low and has yet to be demonstrated.

Read the Monnaie de Paris report:

English version

French version

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

Bank of England

The risk posed by handling a banknote is no greater than touching any other common surface, such as handrails, doorknobs or credit cards.

WHO did NOT say banknotes would transmit COVID-19

The World Health Organization has rejected reports that it warned COVID-19 could be spread through handling cash. WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said, ‘WHO did NOT say that banknotes would transmit COVID-19, nor have we issued any warnings or statements about this.’

Banknotes and coins have the same chance of transmitting COVID-19 as many other surfaces one encounters during a normal shopping experience, including shopping trolleys, hand rails, lift buttons, keypads, mobile phones and bank cards used to tap and go. Cash poses no greater risk than other forms of payment or many other dry surfaces.

COVID-19 is transmitted through droplets caused by infected people coughing, sneezing or speaking, which can land on other people or common surfaces. You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within one metre of a person who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.

The best defence against these droplets is to avoid touching your face, sanitise the surfaces of any items that you touch, and regularly wash or sanitise your hands.

This applies equally if you use cash or cash-free methods such as contactless payments. Be sure to also wash your hands after using phones, credit cards, keypads or touchscreens.

Being able to keep using cash during this period is vitally important for many people, particularly disadvantaged people such as those with literacy issues, on low incomes, and without regular access to phone or internet services.

Retailers may unintentionally discriminate against people who prefer to use physical currency and deny customers access to the goods and services they need. Refusing cash could put an unnecessary burden on people who depend on cash as a means of payment.

More information on cash and coronavirus is provided in the links below.

Useful links

No, cash does not carry coronavirus, says WHO, 9 March 2020

Cash poses no particular risk of infection for public, Central Bank of the Federal Republic of Germany, 18 March 2020

Letter to European Central Bank

May 11, 2020

Cash Coalition group: We believe that the crisis has demonstrated the necessity to fundamentally revisit the definition of legal tender in a way which would aim to protect the ability for people to use cash as they see appropriate.

News: No evidence of infection via contaminated articles

German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)

April 6, 2020

There are currently no cases which have shown any evidence of humans being infected with the new type of coronavirus by via the consumption of contaminated food or via contact with contaminated articles.

Transmission via surfaces which have recently been contaminated with viruses is, nonetheless, possible through smear infections. However, this is only likely to occur during a short period after contamination, due to the relatively low stability of coronaviruses in the environment.”

European Central Bank: Risk of contracting corona virus from cash is very low

April 30, 2020

The results indicate that euro banknotes do not represent a particularly significant risk of infection compared to other kinds of surfaces that people come into contact with every day.

 

News: NZ reserve bank says don’t disadvantage people

March 19, 2020

New Zealand’s central bank says that  while businesses are not obliged to accept cash, declining it may end up disadvantaging people who rely on its use.

News: You’re more likely to pick up Covid-19 from people exposure than from the type of payment.

University of Washington School of Public Health

March 12, 2020

In fact, we don’t have any evidence that money in any form has ever been a source of any kind of infection, says Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

 

News: BIS – probability of transmission via banknotes is low

April 3, 2020

The BIS is owned by 62 central banks, representing countries from around the world that together account for about 95% of world GDP.

Scientific evidence suggests that the probability of transmission via banknotes is low when compared with other frequently-touched objects, such as credit card terminals or PIN pads.

Looking ahead, developments could speed up the shift toward digital payments. This could open a divide in access to payments instruments, which could negatively impact unbanked and older consumers. The pandemic may amplify calls to defend the role of cash – but also calls for central bank digital currencies.

 

 

 

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