Covid fallout: Banks cut public business hours

In view of steep rise in the COVID19 cases, the banks operating in J&K have curtailed working hours and staff presence at the branches.  As per a statement issued here today, the banks shall conduct public business from 10am to 2pm with reduced staff presence at the branches as well as in the controlling offices.

“The new standard operating procedures will be implemented with immediate effect till 31 May 2021 to safeguard people amid huge spike in COVID19 cases in the UT,” the statement said. 

The statement said that soon after a communication from Indian Banks Association to SLBC/UTLBC Conveners advising them to hold deliberations with stakeholders regarding circumstances, and issue appropriate advisories to banks, the J&K Bank, Convener J&K UTLBC, conducted a meeting through video conferencing.

The meeting, it said, was attended by President (LBD/UTLBC), Vice President (LBD/UTLBC) and senior level officers of the banks operating in the UT of J&K including SBI, PNB, JKGB, EDB, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, UCO Bank, Canara Bank, PSB, and JKSCB.

“In order to strike a balance between public health and economic necessities of the people, the stakeholders unanimously proposed measures for implementation by the banks,” it said, adding that the measures include curtailing bank business time from 10am to 2pm with banking hours restricted from 10am to 4pm with reduced staff in branches as well as in controlling offices.

Meanwhile, urging the customers in particular and people in general to make use of digital channels for their banking needs and avoid visiting bank branches unnecessarily, chairman and MD J&K Bank, R K Chhibber said, “Together we have braved the first wave of the ongoing pandemic and with your support and cooperation, I believe, we shall overcome the second wave as well.”

However, he said, “We need to take precautions, follow guidelines issued by the government from time to time.”

He added: “Let me reiterate, J&K Bank will stand by all its stakeholders ensuring uninterrupted banking services and financial support within the regulatory framework while strictly following COVID-19 related protocols.”

Meanwhile, the UTLBC has also advised the local branches/offices of the banks to ensure uninterrupted banking services to the public through branches, ATMs and banking correspondents besides facilitating credit needs in a smooth and seamless manner. “Besides, all meetings, training events and camps shall be conducted through online mode to avoid mass gathering,” it said.

Furthermore, the UTLBC has urged all the banks to advise their customers to use the digital banking platforms, ATMs, Cash  Deposit Machines, Recyclers, BC services etc. and abstain from visiting the  Bank branches  unless in case of unavoidable circumstances.

While implementing the new SOPs, the banks shall take all precautionary measures to prevent spread of the pandemic to safeguard the interest of the staff by ensuring the availability of sufficient facemasks, sanitizers and other safety devices.