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The Bank of Canada is “strongly” urging retailers to stop refusing cash payments to ensure all Canadians have access to the necessary goods and services they need.

“Refusing cash could put an undue burden on people who depend on cash as a means of payment,” the central bank said in a statement.

Some retailers and businesses are no longer accepting cash at the checkout in an effort to limit employees’ potential exposure to COVID-19, but many customers, such as elderly and low-income Canadians, are dependent on cash for transactions.

The risks posed from handling Canadian banknotes are “no greater than those posed by touching other common surfaces, such as doorknobs, kitchen counters and handrails," the bank said in a statement on Wednesday. Anyone required to handle cash should follow the public-health guidelines on COVID-19, such as washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, it added.

The bank said it is working with financial institutions to ensure there is no disruption to the cash supply during the coronavirus outbreak so that Canadians can continue to have access to cash when they need it.

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