The new coronavirus has restricted millions of Chinese people to their homes and towns, and now old bank notes are being quarantined.
The government cut off the transfer and allocation of old bank notes across provinces, and between cities most affected by the deadly outbreak, according to Fan Yifei, People’s Bank of China’s deputy governor. The central bank also ramped up measures to sanitize old money to reduce contagion risks and added 600 billion yuan ($85.9 billion) of new cash for Hubei, the epicenter of the coronavirus, he said.
“Money from key virus-hit areas will be sanitized with ultraviolet rays or heated and locked up for at least 14 days, before it is distributed again,” Fan said at a press conference on Saturday. Money circulated in less riskier areas is subject to a week of quarantine and commercial lenders have been asked to separate cash from hospitals and food markets, he said.
The share of cash in broad money supply has dropped steadily in recent years in China, with the rise of mobile payments largely replacing bank notes in daily life. Older people still tend to prefer using bank notes for day-to-day transactions.