Bank branches and offices will remain open throughout the country with bare minimum staff for ensuring the continuity of essential banking services, according to the circular issued by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to commercial and microfinance banks.
However, the branches and workplaces will open at 10:00 am and close at 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday till further instructions by SBP under the new arrangement from March 24, 2020.
Moreover, to facilitate trade related businesses, trade hubs of banks in all major cities will remain operational with bare minimum staff.
Emergency Situation at Branches
In case of identification of any COVID – 19 case in a branch or work premises or unforeseen event or untoward happening or any other emergency situation, branches or workplaces may be temporarily closed or relocated under intimation to SBP.
Large scale closure of branches may cause overcrowding and congestion at the operative branches, which may be counterproductive to efforts to contain the spread of the disease.
The banks may, however, close branches where the staff is infected and for which requisite human resource is not available. The situation will be reviewed again in a couple of days based on the customers’ visit to branches during lockdowns.
Critical staff will carry their original CNIC & service card at all times with them. However, if due to any reason, the critical staff does not currently have their original CNIC & service card with them, then to facilitate their movement to workplaces a letter certifying their employment may be issued by their respective institutions. A similar arrangement may also be followed for those companies that provide cash collection and delivery services.
Banks will ensure uninterrupted availability of all ATM services, digital and alternate delivery channels for the facilitation of customers. Further, be vigilant and take measures to proactively mitigate cybersecurity risks associated with these channels.
The guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, the Government of Pakistan and the Provincial Governments shall be implemented, in letter and spirit, to ensure the safety and health of employees and customers and cleanliness at the workplace, SBP circular said.