Coronavirus: Financial services will remain available, but some bank branches to close

Banking services will continue to be available through online channels, ATMs and bank branches. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - All financial services, such as banking, will remain available amid the period of elevated safe distancing measures. However some banks will temporarily shut a proportion of their branches.

This comes as workplaces offering non-essential services were ordered to close to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Friday (April 3) that all financial institutions will continue to operate, although with reduced staffing on their premises, in line with the Health Ministry's advisory on maximising telecommuting.

The financial services sector is one of the essential services exempted from the suspension of activities at workplaces from April 7 to May 4 in a bid to reduce local transmissions of the coronavirus.

Banking services will be available through online channels, ATMs and bank branches. Insurance, broking, custody, asset management, and financial advisory services will also continue to be available.

"Banks will maintain adequate cash in ATMs, and there is no need for members of the public to withdraw more cash than their normal needs," said the MAS.

But as customer traffic would decline as a result of the elevated measures, banks will temporarily close some of their branches from April 9 to May 4, or with revised opening hours for some locations, said the Association of Banks in Singapore.

Its chairman Samuel Tsien said: "Banks will increase resources to support the smooth running of branches that are open, and ensure safe distancing of our staff and customers when they visit the branches. There is no cause for concern."

OCBC Bank will temporarily close 22 branches during that period, with 24 branches staying open, including all 19 that offer Sunday Banking services. All five branches with safe deposit boxes will also stay open.

Citibank Singapore will close four branches. The remaining branches will have revised operating hours, and vulnerable customers such as the elderly and pregnant women, will be provided with a dedicated branch hour from 9.30am to 10.30am and priority queues.

MAS noted that members of the public should minimise going to financial institutions' branches or other premises. Customers should also use online channels.

Those applying for financial relief measures, such as the deferring of property loan payments, can contact their financial service providers through phone or e-mail.

The General Insurance Association and the Life Insurance Association, Singapore said insurers will continue offering the full range of services including claims processing through contact centres and digital means.

The Singapore Exchange, supported by as brokerage firms, liquidity providers, market makers and data vendors, will ensure that financial markets stay open and accessible.

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