In light of the continuing health threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Bankers Association is urging banks across the nation to adopt a policy requiring anyone who enters a branch to wear a mask or face covering to protect the health of bank employees and customers.
Requiring the use of masks and face coverings is a step every bank can take to ensure that our industry is doing everything it can to protect our employees, customers and the communities we serve,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “We owe it to frontline bank staff to prioritize their safety and to contribute to the wider effort to limit the spread of this infection.”
Nichols recommended the mask policy in a letter to ABA member banks Sunday after consulting with ABA’s executive committee.
Since the start of the pandemic, banks have taken unprecedented steps to enhance the safety of customers and employees while ensuring the banking system remains open and fully functioning. Those actions include closing branch lobbies, expanding drive-through lanes and allowing employees to work from home. In addition, customers have taken advantage of bank investments in online and digital banking tools, allowing them to access their accounts without ever having to visit a branch.
“We have seen a significant increase in online banking across the country, but we realize some customers occasionally need to visit a branch and some prefer it,” said Paul Benda, ABA’s senior vice president for Risk Management. “The data clearly show that wearing a mask or face covering when indoors reduces the threat of infection for everyone, which is why we are urging banks of all sizes to adopt this policy.”
Benda, who previously worked at the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense where he oversaw the Pentagon program to defend against chemical and biological weapons, has led ABA’s effort to respond to the coronavirus threat, providing guidance and leading practices to member banks and coordinating with federal banking regulators, public health officials and industry leaders trying to ensure the safety of customers and bank personnel.