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COVID-19 and money handling

"The risks posed from handling cash are no greater than those posed by touching other common surfaces like doorknobs, kitchen counters and handrails."
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COCHRANE— The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on daily activities and for those trying to pay with cash, a courteous reminder has been plastered at almost every establishment reminding consumers to— "please pay with credit or debit in fears of COVID-19 transmission."

Cash has always been a preferred method of payment due to its convenience, acceptability, and saviour to your credit score. Since COVID-19 has become a new reality, cash transactions are getting turned down quicker than you can tap your debit card.

While The World Health Organization has stated that there is currently no evidence to confirm or disprove that COVID-19 can be transmitted through coins or banknotes, the Bank of Canada has asked retailers to continue accepting cash saying, "Refusing cash purchases outright will put an undue burden on those who depend on cash and have limited payment options. The bank added, "The risks posed from handling cash are no greater than those posed by touching other common surfaces like doorknobs, kitchen counters and handrails."

Margaret Downing, chief people and culture officer at Bow Valley Credit Union explained that each time staff handles cash they are required to wash their hands. She added no information has been received from higher-ups indicating banknotes and coins as carriers of COVID-19.

"We haven't heard that we are any more vulnerable or any more at risk at passing it on than picking up a newspaper or anything like that," Downing said.

Although money handling is becoming scarce, Downing said this has not affected normal business operations too much as things have just shifted to adjust to the pandemic.

"We're not doing a lot of cash handling anyway because nobody wants to take it" chuckled Downing. "People are learning how to use the ATMs and they're learning how to have their bill processed either on the phone or through our night deposit."

As declared by Health Canada, the novel virus is most commonly spread from an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze, close prolonged personal contact including touching or shaking hands, and touching something that is carrying the virus then proceeding to touch your mouth, nose or eyes before properly washing them. 

By practicing recommended health guidelines this continues to be the most effective way of steering clear of COVID-19. 

Steven Meitin, president of the Canadian Association of Secured Transportation (CAST) said that axing cash payments could lead to societal and economic impacts. He explained cash payments account for roughly 85 per cent of transactions worldwide and discouraging the use of the legal tender impacts young people without bank accounts, those with no access to credit and the elderly. It could also speed up the shift toward digital payments.

Cochrane's Car Wash Corral is no stranger to the cash world. Employee Dale Cardinal said while they are accepting all types of payment, as always, since the start of COVID-19 he has noticed an increase in credit card transactions as opposed to cash. 

"We are seeing a big change in how people are paying, it's not a bed of roses anymore out here."

He added the witty banter he has had with customers has shared a common consensus of individuals expressing financial struggles through the worldwide pandemic. 

"It's tough out there," said Cardinal. 

According to the scientists at Harper Adams University, bacteria found on human hands are less capable of sticking to polymer banknotes. Christine Tate-Burkard an expert on infection and immunity at Roslin Institute stated the risk of banknotes spreading coronavirus is small— unless someone is using a banknote to sneeze in. 

By following the same precautions as those recommended when handing debit/credit cards, mobile phones, or PIN pads we can mitigate the risk of transmitting the novel virus and shouldn't deem cash transactions as a thing of the past.