Thousands of bank branches are being forced to close as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to grow.
The government have said banks are one of the few businesses allowed to stay open, but staff availability is forcing many high street banks to close branches, sometimes at short notice. Others are managing to remain open, but with reduced hours.
Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax and Bank Of Scotland, has ‘closed a host of branches’ across the country and social distancing rules have been put in place for the ones that remain open.
Challenger bank TSB has closed a fifth of its branch network and others have said ‘the situation remains under close review’ as the numbers of staff available is expected to fall because of self-isolation.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Natwest and HSBC are restricting opening hours with the decision being made by each individual branch.
Nationwide has shut 50 branches and will only open 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 12 noon on Saturday.
Spokeswoman Mandy Beech said: “We remain open and we will try to keep as many of our branches open while we are able to.
“However, where possible we would ask people, particularly those at higher risk, to use online or mobile banking services and to speak to us if they have any needs or concerns. We thank our members for their patience as we know this is an extremely challenging time for many.”
A spokesman for UK Finance, the banking industry’s trade body, said: “Banks and building societies are following the government’s two-metre rule which may mean that customers are required to queue outside a branch to ensure the wellbeing of both customers and staff.”
To try to minimise days the industry has asked consumers to think before calling banks:
- Ask yourself: Do I need to speak to my bank, building society or credit union today?/li>
- Consider: Can I do this through mobile online banking?
- Review: Is the answer already on their website?
There has been some concern over using cash for transactions for those with no access to online or mobile banking, but health officials say there is no greater risk of using banknotes or coins. However, the advice is to wash your hands afterwards and avoid touching your face.