With the coronavirus pandemic being top of mind for people all across the world, right now, it’s vital we all do our part to help stop the spread of the virus. Just one of the ways that has been considered by many Canadians is to no longer use cash. While credit card and debit card use is already extremely popular throughout Canada, the concept of not having to hand over anything to another person seems to be increasing its allure.
This is especially true for employees who work cash registers. Is it possible for COVID-19 to spread due to the transfer of cash and coins? Ideally, all customers would use their credit cards and/or debit cards so that no one has to hand off any money to another person. At least, this is what has been on the minds of many business owners and their staffs. This is certainly true for Metrolinx.
The Ontario-based transit organization recently decided to remove cash payment options in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. As Bryann Aguilar reports for CTV News, the new initiative aims at stopping the spread of COVID-19. Metrolinx spokesperson, Anne Marie Aikins offered her statements to CTV in an effort to shed light on the transit agency’s decision.
“This is an unprecedented, quickly evolving situation,” she said, “This week, we are increasing efforts further to protect our staff who are working so hard on the frontlines to ensure essential staff in the region can get to their jobs.” Aikins went on to say that Metrolinx is well-stocked with required equipment and supplies to protect their employees. This includes gloves and hand sanitizer.
The idea of eliminating cash use as a form of stopping the spread of the coronavirus is one that is shared worldwide. As Danica Cullinane of Australia’s news site Small Caps reports, COVID-19 appears to have sped up the start of a cashless society. Acknowledging that the world was already headed in that direction, she raises the question about whether or not the virus can be spread through notes and coins.
Cullinane points to an article in the U.K. newspaper, The Telegraph that quotes the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying that people should use contactless payment options where possible. In addition, they should wash their hands after handling cash “because infectious COVID-19 may cling to the surface for a number of days”.
WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib told media that WHO was “misrepresented” by The Telegraph, claiming they “did NOT say that cash was transmitting coronavirus”. “We were asked if we thought banknotes could transmit COVID-19 and we said you should wash your hands after handling money, especially if handling or eating food,” Chaib was quoted as saying.
“Nevertheless,” writes Cullinane, “more businesses – particularly in the hospitality industry – have been switching to ‘cash-free’ operations in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus…Cash has already been on the decline for some time with several countries slowing phasing out certain notes from existence. Australia is one such country that floated the idea in 2016 of removing the $100 note from circulation.”
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