Bank of Canada asks retailers not to ban cash transactions over coronavirus fears

OTTAWA, March 18 (Reuters) - The Bank of Canada urged retailers on Wednesday to stop banning cash transactions for fear of spreading the coronavirus, saying the practice could hurt people who relied on physical money.

A number of Canadian outlets, citing health concerns, are declining to take cash. Coffee store chain Second Cup Ltd said last week that its outlets would only accept debit, credit, gift cards and mobile payments.

“Refusing cash could put an undue burden on people who depend on cash as a means of payment. The Bank strongly advocates that retailers continue to accept cash,” the central bank said in a statement.

“The risks posed from handling Canadian bank notes are no greater than those posed by touching other common surfaces such as doorknobs, kitchen counters and handrails,” it said. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney)