Only few bank branches remain open in Bangladesh amid coronavirus scare

Banks conducted limited operations only at a few branches across the country on Sunday, the first day of a five-day government holidays announced to limit movement of people to halt the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

All of the banks opened around 20-25 per cent of their branches with a thin presence of clients at some branches and a rush at other branches during banking hours, 10:00am-12:00pm, on Sunday.

During the holidays, the Bangladesh Bank asked banks to continue operations of the branches on a limited scale, taking the distances between the bank’s branches into consideration.

Banks said that operations at the majority of the scheduled banks’ branches would be suspended until April 4.

While, the bankers cautioned that keeping the banks’ branches open, though partially, would create hindrance to implementing social isolation to contain the pandemic coronavirus.

In the city’s Mirpur section-1, branches of 10 banks were found closed on Sunday while branches of four other banks were partially functional.

The branches of Pubali Bank, Jamuna Bank, Eastern Bank, United Commercial Bank, AB Bank, NCC Bank, Mercantile Bank, Social Islami Bank, BRAC Bank and Bank Asia were closed.

Asked, security guards present in front of the banks’ branches said that the normal activities of the branches would resume from April 5.

Khoybor Ali, a customer of Pubali Bank, told New Age that he came to the bank for cash withdrawal.

‘I have a cheque book but do not have any ATM card and that’s why I came to the bank branch for cash withdrawal,’ he said, adding that he was in dire need of cash money.

Asked, Pubali Bank managing director Md Abdul Halim Chowdhury told New Age on Sunday, ‘A total of 95 out of the 482 branches of the bank remained open on the day.’

Besides, customers of Pubali Bank would be able to withdraw cash from the bank’ ATMs along with the ATMs of any other bank, he said.

Speaking about the risk factor of keeping branches open, Halim said that the risk of exposure of the employees of banks were equal to the exposure of the medical professionals as customers were largely ignorant about the safety measures.

The branches of Dutch-Bangla Bank, Sonali Bank, Al-Arafah Islami Bank and Islami Bank were partially open.

However, the presence of customers in the banks’ branches which were functional on Sunday was paltry.

Sonali Bank’s Mirpur section-1 branch assistant general manager Ratan Chandra Roby told New Age, ‘Around 50 customers withdrew fund at the branch during the curtailed banking hours, 10:00am to 12:00pm.’

‘On a usual day, around 200 customers take cash from the branch,’ he said.

An official of Dutch-Bangla Bank said that the presence of customers in the bank was notable on the day but lower than the normal banking days.

Customers got cash withdrawal and deposit, remittance and other foreign transaction services, the official said.

In Mirpur’s section-10 and Kazipara areas, branches of Social Islami Bank, Janata Bank, United Commercial Bank, Jamuna Bank, Mercantile Bank and Bank Asia were open.

On the other hand, branches of Dutch-Bangla Bank and The City Bank were closed.

The similar scenario was seen at Kawran Bazar and Motijheel in the capital. (Source: New Age)

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