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ABA Offers Advice ‘Matrix’ for Banks Reopening Branches

Some states are phasing out stay-at-home orders and allowing businesses to reopen after nearly two months of lockdown

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  • Written by  Banking Exchange staff
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ABA Offers Advice ‘Matrix’ for Banks Reopening Branches

The American Bankers Association (ABA) has published a customizable “matrix” to aid banks planning to reopen branches closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Banks across the US have been closing branches or reducing opening hours or services offered since the start of March when the pandemic hit the US.

However, in recent days some states have started exploring how to lift ‘stay at home’ orders.

Texas authorities did not renew the state’s stay-at-home measures when they expired on April 30, instead opting for a phased reopening of businesses. Ohio has announced a similar plan starting from today.

This has led banks to consider how to start moving back to ‘business as usual’, the ABA said.

In response, the association has made the customizable planning tool available for free to hep guide banks’ planning processes.

The matrix “provides a comprehensive list of potential mitigation measures banks may take related to their facilities, customer interactions and workforce management”, the association said.

The measures range from installing sneeze guards at teller windows, rolling out medical screening of employees, enhancing cleaning procedures, and using personal protective equipment.

The matrix also lists all federal guidance that applies to the factors considered, including advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

It also indicates where banks should consult with local and/or state authorities when deciding on some specific requirements.

Global consultancy group McKinsey last week set out a number of recommendations for banks to consider when attempting to return to business as usual.

It warned bank leaders that they must plan carefully as they faced “operational and organizational decisions with profound implications” for staff and customers.

In an interview with Associated Press, Washington Trust Bank chief executive Jack Heath said his company would be reopening branches “slowly and prudently”.

Some major banks – including JP Morgan – are making plans for employees to return to office-based work in the coming weeks, according to Reuters. However, they are not planning to rush their processes and could make changes to office usage to comply with local health advice.

Reuters cited a staff memo from Wells Fargo COO Scott Powell stating that the company would “continue with the safety measures we have put in place at our work locations and we will expect the more than 180,000 employees who are working from home to continue to do so”.

COVID-19 cases in the US reached 1.15 million as of May 3, according to data collated by Deutsche Bank.

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