Paper Money

Fed places quarantine on notes being returned from Asia

Federal Reserve notes being returned from China are quarantined for seven to 10 days, per orders from the Federal Reserve. (The note shown is not one of the quarantined examples.)

Coin World file image.

The human toll is far more important than whatever effect the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has on currency, but as shown by the latest events in South Korea and the United States, that effect is unprecedented nonetheless.

The March 6 New York Post cited a Reuters report that the U.S. dollar is facing the same fate as many travelers returning home from abroad. The Federal Reserve System has begun quarantining physical dollars as they are returned from Asia before recirculating them in this country. A spokesperson for the Federal Reserve told Reuters this was being done as a precaution against the spread of the virus. It is not yet disinfecting or destroying any returned cash as in China.

Federal Reserve is setting aside shipments of dollars from Asia for seven to 10 days before processing and redistributing them. The policy has been in effect since Feb. 21, far before other government officials acknowledged the severity of the threat posed.

The U.S. dollar is the de facto currency in many places and is more widely used internationally than any other currency. The Federal Reserve banks receive excess currency from overseas banks and also distribute new money to those who order it.

Also on March 6, CNN Business reported that South Korea’s central bank was taking all bank notes out of circulation for two weeks, and burning some of them to reduce the spread of the virus.

This all follows massive Chinese efforts to disinfect and destroy returned currency; the suspension of events, including coins shows in Singapore and Munich; and the closure of facilities where crowds of people gather.

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