Euro banknotes ©Nils Thies

Cash poses no particular risk of infection for public

Bundesbank Executive Board member Johannes Beermann has indicated that the risk of picking up coronavirus via cash is extremely minimal. In a press briefing at the Bundesbank, Mr Beermann noted that “the probability of becoming ill from handling cash is smaller than from many other objects used in everyday life”. “Banknotes and coins do not pose a particular risk of infection for the public.” He said that euro banknotes were designed such that soiling through everyday use was minimal. Moreover, €5 and €10 banknotes, which change hands particularly often as change, additionally have a protective coating against soiling. “At its 35 branches, the Bundesbank annually processes over 14 billion banknotes, removes soiled banknotes and replaces them with freshly printed notes,” Mr Beermann explained.

No risk of transmitting viruses via banknotes

René Gottschalk,  infectiologist and head of the Frankfurt am Main Health Office, does not consider there to be any risk of transmitting coronavirus via banknotes. “In principle, it is entirely irrelevant how long pathogens can survive on surfaces.  What is decisive is whether it is an infection channel,” he explained at the press briefing. He saw no such infection channel as existing for banknotes. In addition, banknotes’ physical properties meant that they did not particularly lend themselves to transmitting pathogens. “Coronavirus is mainly spread by infected droplets transmitted by coughing, sneezing or also talking,” Mr Gottschalk added. If the virus were spread via banknotes or table surfaces, the number of cases would be higher, he noted.

Cash supply secure even in a crisis scenario

Mr Beermann additionally stressed that the supply of cash in Germany was secure even in a crisis scenario. “We have printed more money than we need; our vaults are therefore well stocked.” He added that the Bundesbank has internal contingency and crisis plans and has taken organisational measures at its branches to ensure the supply of cash even in the event of a further spread of the coronavirus. “Cash will not run out in Germany. The supply of cash is secure,” according to Mr Beermann.